#Fernweh: Klementinum

Originally opened in 1722, the Klementinum Library in Prague, can be very well considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The library was initially part of the Jesuit University. The impressive Baroque architecture gives the whole building a sort of grandeur and opulence.

The extensive grounds of the Klementinum, one of the largest building complexes in Europe, were built from the mid-16th century to the mid-18th century. In its Astronomical Tower, meteorological measurements have been collected since 1775. The most beautiful hall of the complex is the Baroque Library with beautiful frescoes and historically valuable globes. The Mirror Chapel with its richly designed interior and unique installation of mirrors is a place where classical music concerts take place regularly.

The history of the K: KLemlementinum is long and rich, and nowadays the complex is still a dignified center of education and culture for Prague and indeed the whole of the Czech Republic. The National Library of the Czech Republic, seated in the Baroque complex of Klementinum, is the central library of the country. Directed by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, it controls the system of all Czech public libraries (except for the privately owned ones) and its book-stock preserves all books, manuscripts, and other publications issued in the Bohemian land since 1807. The National Library is one of the biggest and oldest European libraries, storing and making accessible over six million documents.

When visiting the Prague Clementinum, you surely do not want to miss its amazing Astronomical Tower. Originally, the Jesuits had it built in 1722, and it was rebuilt in 1751. During the rebuilding the tower was equipped with astronomical instruments and, thanks to this, since 1775 the Clementinum has regularly performed a regular meteorological measuring.

Fun Facts

– The Klementinum is considered one of the oldest areas for weather recording in Europe. In the Czech Republic, oldest weather recording started in the library in 1775, and it continues to present day.

– At one time in history, the library was the third largest Jesuit college in the whole world.

– Jan Hiebl is responsible for the amazing interior work, including the murals and fresco work.

– The Klementinum is part of literature as well. The main character in “The Secret Miracle” a book by Jorge Luis Borges has a dream about the library. In the dream, the main character dreams of a place where librarians look for God in the books. During that part, one of the librarians says “God is in one of the letters of one of the pages of one of the four hundred thousand books of Klementinum. My fathers and the fathers of my fathers have looked for this letter; I myself have gone blind looking for it”. After that, a reader delivers an atlas to the main character, after which the main character opens the book at a random page and finds a map of India. He then touches one of the letters, and finds God.

– The Library Hall includes the Temple of Wisdom, a section of the library housing thousands of theological books that date back to the 1600s.

– The Chapel of Mirrors, another section in the library, dates back to the 1720. The highlight of the Chapel is an ornate confection of gilded strucco, ceiling mirrors and lots of fancy frescoes.

– The library is still one of the most popular venues for concerts of classical music.

– The Klementinum includes two churches, which are the Church of St. Clement and the Chapel of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The latter was built in 1600 for Italian artisans working in the library. The Chapel is still property of the Italian government. The Church of St. Clement, on the other hand, was a highlight during the baroque period, and is now redesigned into a Greek Catholic Chapel.

Every detail is thoroughly worked to perfection, from the floors to the walls, to the ceiling, it all leaves you in awe to what architecture and human mind could do to this place. If you want to visit, the Klementinum is opened daily from 10 a.m. including weekends. Closing time varies per season. Please note the only way how to get there is using the guided tour with guide. Unfortunately the guided tours for 2017 have been terminated due to to the legal dispute with the National Library of the Czech Republic, administrator of Clementinum. This applies to all building including Astronomical Tower, the Baroque Library and the Mirror Chapel. If you still want a look inside, check out this virtual tour.