PRAGUE, Czech Republic – If you’re a certified bookworm, chances are you love that library scene from Beauty and the Beast. You probably dreamed of having a similar library of your own despite the skyrocketing prices of real estate.
And while we can’t tell you how you can have one, we here at The Binge found a place where you can enjoy such a library. All you have to do is go to Prague’s Strahov Monastery.
Just a short tram ride from Prague’s Old Town, the Strahov Monastery is truly a great place to visit. It was built in 1143 on one of the city’s hilltops.
The complex is open everyday throughout the year except on 24th and 25th of December, and Easter Sunday. Here, you’ll find a brewery, a church, a picture gallery, and one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.
The Library Halls
The Philosophical Hall is a breathtaking, ornate room filled with some of the oldest books around. It was built towards the end of the 18th century by Abbot Václav Mayer through Italian architect Jan Ignác Palliardi.
This hall contains about 42,000 volumes and will leave you standing in awe as you look up – past the books towards that beautiful fresco on the ceiling. It’s called the ‘Intellectual Progress of Mankind’ depicting scenes of how religion and science can progress at the same time.
The next section of the library is the Theological Hall built under Abbot Jeroným Hirnhaim in the 1600s. He employed an architect that was part of Prague’s bourgeois with Italian origins – Giovanni Domennico Orsi.
What he learned in Italy shows in the ceiling’s stucco cartouches. The hall’s name comes from the nature of the volumes stored – Bibles and other theological books. The Northern part of the hall actually houses Bibles in varying editions and languages.
Not only are the halls housing the books beautiful, the connecting passage are also a sight to behold.
The Strahov Cabinet of Curiosities that line the walls of the passageway were from Karel Jan Erben‘s estate. Acquired in the late 1700s, they contain preserved insects and other interesting flora. There are also the remains of the now extinct Dodo bird.
You’ll also find rare books and other antiques that are enough to pique anyone’s interest.
After looking through the library, pop by the Strahov Brewery and Restaurant for a hearty Czech lunch and fine craft beer. It’s just a short walk from the library building. After all, a visit to Prague won’t be complete without sampling the beer. Na zdraví! (Cheers!)
Strahov Monastery Library
Královská kanonie premonstrátů na Strahově
Strahovské nádvoří 1/132
CZ 118 00 Prague
Open everyday (except 24th & 25th of December and Easter Sunday)
Entrance fee: CZK 120 (USD5.63)