Klementinum – one of the jewels of the Old Town of Prague

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The historical centre of Prague is a world in itself. Oblique streets, majestic squares and pictoresque corners remind of a fairytale. And the same could be said about Klementinum – a large complex of churches, chapels, library and other buildings which are situated just a few steps from the Old Town Square and literally in sight of hotel Rott.

 

Its history dates back to the Middle Ages and a Dominican convent, which was transformed into a Jesuit college in 1556. Since than the complex underwent many changes, most of them being finished around the 18th century, this image was well preserved till nowadays. And that is one of the reasons why Klementinum is valued as a mixture of styles beginning with Baroque as far as to Classicism. This fact makes the whole complex very unique. Covering more than 20,000 square metres, it is one of the largest complexes of buildings in Europe.



One of the most interesting buildings inside is the Astronomical tower which was built in 1722 , and is 68 meters high. The view from the tower covered the whole city of Prague till the half of the 20th century.


A few decades later an astronomical observatory was built into the top of the tower, which was renamed to Mathematical tower and got an important role in the development of astronomical studies in the country.


The old astronomical appliances used here since centuries are on display as a part of the exposition today.

 

Another unique part of Klementinum is so called Meridian Hall situated on the second floor of the tower. It was used for determining the astronomical noon. The whole room with high ceilings had no windows at all, just a tiny hole up in the wall. The light that went through this hole fell on a string stretched on the opposite site and showed the very moment of noon. It was a Camera Obscura of a kind. The string is stretched across the room till nowadays, although it does not serve its original purpose for more than a century.

 

The most precious part of the complex is the Baroque Library. It houses over 20 000 volumes of mostly theological literature, some volumes dating back to the beginning of the 17th century. The whole room is known and appreciated for its historical atmosphere and ceiling frescoes made by Jan Hiebl and depicting allegorical motifs of education, and portraits of Jesuit saint patrons.

 

The complex is currently in use as the National Library of the Czech Republic. Some of the specimens stored here has an irreplaceable historical value and are at the same time very precious items and spiritual heritage.


The complex, located two minutes walking from prague hotel Rott, is open every day. We strongly recommend guided tours which begin daily at 10 am, and start every 30 minutes during the day. The tour takes about 45 minutes. Tours are mainly in English, information is also available in printed form - in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.


All of the sights mentioned are included as well as the Mirror Chapel which can also serve for private events as a romantic dinner or an engagement ceremony.

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