Sunday, August 30, 2009

Strahov Monastery Library

The next beautiful library on my list of Libraries To See is found in the Strahov Monastery. The library is not quite as old as the Klementinum, but did have the advantage of allowing no-flash photography. In order to make up for all the lost photos from Klementinum, I may have overdone it on this one :)

The outside of the library

The older hall - the Theological Hall - obviously houses a collection of theological literature. They have some very old manuscripts, one of which dates from about the 9th century!

View of the ceiling in the Theological Hall - really, how do you concentrate on reading in such a richly decorated room? Unless you happen to be studying something like this:

Some of the gorgeous illuminated manuscripts from the 15th and 16th century

Connecting the two halls they have a corridor of old books - legal, medical, and pharmaceutical literature. Not to mention gorgeous cabinets and bookshelves stuffed with old books.

This cabinet has a collection of books about trees and the spine on each one contains a sample of the bark of the tree. Very cool!

And at the other end of the corridor, we have:

the Philosophical Hall (which was unfortunately being renovated in some way - not as cool with people and construction stuff inside)

I did manage to buy a booklet, several postcards, and some posters of these halls, so I will have to scan one of those so you can see what the Philosophical Hall looks like normally.

What I found so interesting about the Philosophical Hall was the story of the abbot who built this hall in the 18th century. He didn't have the funds for bookshelves, but ended up buying them from another monastery. When they got them back home, they didn't fit. Instead of adjusting the cabinets to fit the existing library, he redid the library to fit the cabinets. An interesting but pricey choice I could consider for my own bookshelf issues.

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