Making Bookends Meet

Day Twenty-Six – Strahov Monastery and Library

Library

Peering through the doorway, and surrounded by the sounds of small gasps of awe, the Strahov Monastery Library is a sight to behold.

Built in 1143, the Strahov Monastery Library has over 900,000 volumes, not to mention all the other works of art and artifacts hidden in these walls.

For 50 koruna you pay for a bright yellow sticker that protects you from the harsh barks of the workers who catch you with your phone – that is, to take photos. Admission itself isn’t particularly steep at 120 koruna, and only half that if you’re a student, but there’s not much to see once inside.

The libraries themselves are roped off, just to be peeked in at through cordoned off thresholds, teasing you with the views of the towering bookshelves and gilded adornments.

Between the Philosophical and Theological Hall is a short well-lit corridor that displays different curios that’ve been donated or housed in the monastery from years previous, be they weapons, bug collections or exactly what you’d expect to see in a library.

Philosophical Hall

Philosophical Hall inside the Strahov Monastery Library.

But once you make it to the Theological Hall, the experience mostly ends there. It’s unclear if anyone is ever allowed inside these hallowed halls, but back in 2011 photographer Jeffery Martin was allowed in the baroque style Philosophical Hall, photographing the storied stacks. Other than that, it doesn’t seem that anyone else has been allowed inside in recent history.

Theological

Theological Hall inside the Strahov Monastery Library.

It seems a shame if at least the monks don’t get to go inside. Books were made to be read, at the very least cared for and worshipped, and that’s a little hard to do if everyone is stuck in the hallway.

The opportunity to stand in the center of either of these halls simply to absorb the surroundings would be an experience for the books (pun entirely intended), but regardless, having the ability to bear witness to these collections is worth the price.

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