The elegant spires of the basilica, the wonderful period library, the priceless pictures in the gallery and a film set for Hollywood blockbusters – this is Prague’s Strahov Monastery, one of the oldest Premonstratensian monasteries still in existence in the world. Visit this complex that successfully marries exquisite architecture with period treasures of immeasurable value, and learn about this great monastery, which is still a living place of meditation, learning and tranquillity.
Since the monastery was established in 1143 it has been a working concern more or less continuously. It has survived fires, wars, revolutions and the wrath of various regimes, but whenever the members of the order couldn’t live in their monastery buildings, they gathered in other places until they were allowed to return. Today around 70 monks live a quiet life here.
A breathtaking library
Although the spires of Strahov’s basilica stand out on the beautiful Prague skyline, the most precious aspect of the monastery, its priceless treasures, is contained within. One of the most beautiful in the world, the period library houses over 200,000 volumes, of which 3,000 are original manuscripts. The Strahov library is made up of two wonderful halls linked by a passageway. The Theological Hall with its attractive stuccowork contains mostly literature of a theological nature and thousands of editions of the Bible.
Famous European visitors
The main Philosophy Hall is dominated by a grand fresco depicting the Spiritual Development of Mankind, and walnut bookcases reach up to the ceiling. This striking hall was so famous that it was often visited by leading personalities of the day. The oldest visitors’ book contains names such as Admiral Horatio Nelson and the Austrian princess Marie Luisa, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.
James Bond and Jack the Ripper
The monastery also houses a gallery containing the most valuable monastery collection in central Europe. Here you can see two and a half thousand paintings, statues and other works of art from the Gothic era to the 19th century. However, Strahov Monastery doesn’t rest on its historical laurels. Its magnificent halls and inimitable atmosphere have served as the backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters. For instance you can spot the library in the horror film “From Hell” starring Johnny Depp and in the Bond film “Casino Royale” starring Daniel Craig.