The library in the Strahov Monastery in Prague played an important role in Czech history. There are about 200 000 old prints, mostly from the period between the 16 th and the 18 th century, around 3000 manuscripts and 1500 first prints. One of the most precious items is the Strahov Evangeliary from the 9 th century, with Romanesque and Gothic decoration. There are two splendidly decorated halls: the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall.
The origin of the collections in the Strahov Library goes back to the 12 th century, when the Premonstratensian monastery was founded there. The development of the library was interrupted several times through the centuries: there was a big fire in 1258, then it was damaged by Hussite warriors in the 15 th century. Swedish troops invaded Prague in 1648 and they took many books to Sweden with them.
Historical halls of the Strahov Library
After the Thirty Yearsī War, the collected books were stored in a new hall the present Theological Hall, built in the Baroque style by Giovanni Domenico Orsi in 1679. The Strahov Library was carefully kept then, so the collections stayed intact for hundreds of years. For example, it was forbidden to enter the library with a light and to stay there after 7:30 pm. There were also prohibited books, kept in a special place.
The Strahov Library gained many books in the 17 th and 18 th century, so it needed another hall to keep them. Thatīs why the present Philosophical Hall was built by Jan Ignaz Palliardi.
Famous guests of the library
The Strahov Library in Prague was important for the Czech National Revival and it also became renowned throughout Europe at the turn of the 19 th century. Many important personalities visited it, for example admiral lord Horatio Nelson in 1800 or Napoleonīs wife Marie Louise in 1812.
Orders and congregations were abolished in Czechoslovakia in 1950s, after the Communist coup. Many members of religious orders were executed or imprisoned and their properties were confiscated. The Strahov Library became a part of the Museum of Czech Literature. However, after the fall of Communism in 1989, the collections were given back to the Premonstratensian Order in the Strahov Monastery.
When to visit the Strahov Library
The Strahov Library in Prague is open to the public between 9 am and 5 pm every day the whole year, except the 25 th December and the Easter Sunday. It is not possible to take books outside the monastery, because of their great value, but you can read them in the study hall and use the card catalogue. The entrance fee is 80,- CZK.