Monday, October 17, 2016

Prague Strahov Monastery Library & Theological Hall





Famous for its it's magnificent library, The Strahov is the second-oldest monastery in Prague, tucked away on top of a hill not far from Prague Castle. Founded in the 12th-century by Vladislav II, the Monastery is still home to Premonstratensian monks, a scholarly order closely related to the Jesuits. Over the centuries, the monks have assembled one of the world's best collections of over 18,000 philosophical and theological texts, including illuminated manuscripts and first editions. The oldest part of the library, the Baroque Theological Hall, was established between 1671 and 1674 and is a stunning example of baroque opulence. Lavishly decorated with rich stucco work and early 18th-century ceiling frescoes by Siard Nosecký and Anton Maulbertsch, a collection of exquisite astronomical and terrestrial globes line both sides of the Theological Hall, most from the 16th and 17th centuries. Above the shelves of the Theological Hall are gilded wooded-carved decorations with wooden cartouches which functioned as an early card catalogue system — the pictures in the wooden cartouches and their titles specified the type of literature stored on the shelves below. Of special note is the compilation wheel, used by 17th-century scribes to read multiple texts. The rich wood-accented Philosophical Library with its magnificent 46-foot high ceiling is decorated with a 1794 fresco entitled 'The Struggle of Mankind to Know Real Wisdom', also by Nosecký and Maulbertsch. Intricate woodwork frames the immense 2-storey collection of over 42,000 ancient philosophical texts, including books on astronomy, mathematics, history and philology with the highest rows of books only accessible from the gallery through a hidden spiral staircases, masked with false book spines. 




The western gate to the Strahov Monastery capped with a statue of St. Norbert, 
who founded the order of Premonstratensians in 1120 

Stone coat of arms of Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians over the western gate at Strahov

The Strahov Monastery Baroque Theological Hall was established between 1671 and 1674

Rare a collection of geographical and astronomical globes, some hailing from as early as the 16th century

Above the book shelves are gilded wooded-carved cartouches 
indicating the genre of literature filed on the shelves below

The ceiling is a stunning example of baroque opulence with its stucco laden barrel vaulted 
ceiling with 18th-century frescoes by Siard Nosecký and Anton Pmaulbertsch

Over the centuries, the monks have assembled one of the world's best collections of philosophical and theological texts, including illuminated manuscripts and first editions

Ceiling fresco depicting scholars in the study of astronomy

The compilation wheel functioned as a rotating shelf with a mechanism inside which ensured that a scribes books were always held at the same angle as the wheel spun around

Detail of one of the frescoes

The beautiful Theological Hall takes its name from the fact that is contains numerous editions 
of the Bible or parts of the Bible in many languages

The rich wood-accented Philosophical Library's ceiling is decorated with a 1794 fresco entitled 'The Struggle of Mankind to Know Real Wisdom', by A. F. Maulbertsch, a Viennese master of Rococo

The library is one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries in the world

The highest rows of books are only accessible from the gallery through a hidden spiral staircases, masked with false book spines

Intricate walnut woodwork frames the immense 2-storey collection of over 42,000 ancient philosophical texts, including books on astronomy, mathematics, history and philology