Czech name: Strahovská knihovna
For a Prague sightseeing activity beyond the typical castles and cafes, you can visit the beautiful, ornate halls of the Strahov Library. There are two main halls to tour, each collectively housing one of the most incredible collections of any historical library in the world. Countless other sights await all visitors to the biggest monastic library in the Czech Republic. From Napoleon’s wife to British naval commander Horatio Nelson, the Strahov Library has been a popular site for visitors to Prague long before the modern era.
Location & How to Get There
Located at the back of Petřín Hill, the Strahov Monastery (Strahovský klášter) complex houses the beautiful Strahov Library. This hill overlooks the city of Prague near the famous Prague Castle (Pražský hrad). The library is easily accessible for visitors to Prague. From the city center, you can take the number 22 tram or the bus to Dlabačov Street or Keplerova Street. Paid parking is outside of the monastery at Pohořelec Square.
Opening Hours & Entry
The Strahov Library is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day of the week. Open year-round, it is regularly closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Easter. It closes daily between noon and 1 pm for a lunch break. A basic entry fee for the Prague Library is 150 CZK, but there is a reduced rate of 80 CZK. A family fee of 300 CZK allows two adults and a maximum of 3 children under the age of 15 to enter the library. Visitors can also buy photo permission for 50 CZK.
What to Do & What to See
The main attraction is the two halls that house about 200,000 volumes. Unfortunately, visitors only pass by the entrance to protect the ceiling frescoes from rapid changes in humidity. These frescoes showcase figures representing Adam, Eve, and numerous Greek philosophers.
Outside in the lobby, however, visitors may investigate the unique Cabinet of Curiosities, which dates back to the 18th-century. This case comprises a rather unusual collection of shrivelled sharks, turtles, and more put together by sailors to scare people at home with tall tales about sea monsters.
And perhaps the point of most interest is the incredible Xyloteka. These are boxes bound in bark and wood from a broad collection of trees. Each of these boxes contains leaves, roots, flowers, and fruits that showcase the natural beauty of the Czech Republic.
Several catastrophes disrupted the building of the library, including a fire in 1258 and invasion by the Swedes in 1648. The current halls were established in the 17th-century to become the final home of the famous collection. Some of the volumes in this well-preserved collection date back to the 12th-century and the original founding of the monastery.
During the Communist era in the 1950s, most of the volumes became part of the Museum of Czech Literature. However, confiscated religious property, including the Strahov Library collection, were returned to their original homes following the fall of communism in 1989.