Strahov Library - Theological Hall, Philosophical Hall (Strahovská knihovna)
The library of the Premonstratensian monastery at Strahov is one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries – its collection consists of approximately 200,000 volumes. The oldest part of the library, the Baroque Theological Hall, was established between 1671 and 1674; the main Classicist vaults of the Philosophical Hall date from 1794 and are two storeys tall. Both halls are dominated by ceiling frescoes by Siard Nosecký and Anton Maulbertsch.
January – December
- Whole week
- 09.00 – 17.00
closed 12.00 - 13.00
historical Strahov Library - two halls: Baroque Theological Hall and Classicist Philosophical Hall
The Strahov library book collections contain approximately 200,000 volumes (incl. the Strahov Evangeliary from 9th-10th century), estimated to hold 260,000 works. The books are stored in the two halls and in adjacent depositories. Many of the works are old prints printed between 1501 and 1800. The library's incunabula (firstprints) (over 1,500 volumes) and manuscripts (approximately 3,000 sheaves) are also valuable and are stored in a special treasury room.
Cabinet of Curiosities - natural science collections and curiosities
no regular guided tours
texts in foreign languages available
Baroque Theological Hall - established in the years 1671 - 1679 according to a project of architect Giovanni Dominik Orsi, who also made the ceiling’s stucco decorations. There are about 18 000 books in the Baroque libraries focused on theology, there are also wooden carved cartouches with pictures and inscriptions above the racks indicating the type of literature in the respective department. This is the first librarian gadget. Ceiling frescoes by Siard Nosecký, which date back to the 18th century, depict the people’s attitudes towards books; Latin inscriptions are quotations from the Bible. There is an interesting exhibit in the Theological Hall, and it is the so called compilation wheel, which is a desk to be used in compiling texts. There were books placed on the wheel’s racks, and a special mechanism prevented the books from falling down, and kept them in place.
There are earth and astronomical globes on both sides of the hall.
The interior was restored in the years 1993 - 1994.
Creating a new library with a Classicist Philosophers’ Hall in the era of abbot Václav Mayer represented a grand crowning of the Strahov area building development. By creating a library which he made accessible for public, the abbot prevented the abolition of the monastery in the Joseph’s era. Moreover, the abbot was close to Joseph II, and he had the front gable of the Strahov library decorated with a medallion of Joseph II - an enlightened ruler who appreciates the value of the library. The library was created by transforming the former granary, under the command of Ignác Palliardi. Soon afterwards, the library was rebuilt and adjusted to suit the library interior from the abolished Premonstrate temple in Louka near Znojmo, whose books the Strahov abbot managed to acquire. The walnut wood library was built in Prague in the years 1794 - 1797 by the original author Jan Lahofer of Tasovice. The highest lines of books are only accessible from a gallery, to which there are spiral staircases in the library corners, hidden by fake spines of books.
In 1794, Anton Maulbertsh painted the library ceiling with a theme Journey of mankind to wisdom, according to the painting in the library in Louka. The library is by far not only focusing on religion; there are also medical, pharmaceutical, mathematical, juridical, philosophical, geographical, astronomical, and other books. The hall is 32 m long, 10 m wide and 14 m high.
There is a remarkable Rarity cabinet by the Philosophers’ Hall with science collections, with different animals, minerals, mock fruits. In the passage corridor, there are medical, juridical or alchemistic books. At the end of the corridor, there is a very interesting dendrology library, the so called xylotheca. The book folders are made of the wood of the respective trees. There is also a facsimile of the Strahov gospel-book from the 9th century with exceptional illumination decorations. Among the rarities, there is also a model of a warship, cannonballs, military boots, etc.
The first visitors’ book dates back to 1800. Due to immense numbers of visitors today, it is not possible to allow for entering the halls.
The library had a really remarkable place in the education development, also in the time of the national awakening. That was one of the reasons why, when the communists banished the Premonstrates in 1950, it was included in the newly established National Museum of Literature, which was opened for public in 1955. Shortly after 1989, after the restitution of the Premonstrate property, the Strahov library was also returned to the original owners - the Royal Premonstrate Canonry at Strahov.
The Strahov library collections contain around 200,000 books, old prints, first copies and manuscripts.
Latin inscription on the Strahov library front:
RELIGIONI PATRIAE SIONEORVM PROFECTVI A MDCCLXXXIII
For the benefit of religion, country and the Zionists (= regular capitularies from Strahov) in 1783