One of the historical buildings of Prague is the beautiful Klementinum. It is the second largest complex of buildings after the Prague Castle, and it is also an important cultural and educational landmark of Czechia.
Klementinum is situated in the touristic part of the city – between the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge. There are many ways to get there, but the easiest way one would be to use the metro. Just get off at the Staroměstská station (A/green line or the metro) and walk about 5-10 minutes to the final destination. You will enjoy the magnificent and breathtaking architecture of the buildings and monuments while reaching Klementinum.
It was founded in 1556, after Jesuit’s arrival to Bohemia. Since 1622, Klementinum was used as a school, and later as a university. Initially, the building served as a Dominican monastery; however, the premises began to expand, and they redefined their mission in 1653. Jesuits were the ones who had made some significant changes to Klementinum – they built a library, a print room, a pharmacy, a theater, and additional church buildings. The expansion lasted for about 170 years, which explains the variety of architectural styles of the building. The fathers of the buildings were three marvelous architects – Carlo Lurago, Franz Maximilian Kanka, and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. In 1653, Klementinum was merged with Charles University, one of the most prestigious high education premises of the 21st century. Humanities and natural sciences, especially astronomy and mathematics, were nourished here. Later, in 1930, Klementinum became the National Library of the Czech Republic.
Klementinum consists of five large complexes – The National Baroque Library of the Czech Republic, The Astronomical Tower, Meridian Hall, Churches and Chaples, and The Mirror Chaple. The National Library is not only one of the biggest but also one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It was established in 1722, and stores approximately 6 million documents from different periods. The National Baroque Library of the Czech Republic is designed with magnificent science paintings and frescoes. The main contributor was the painter Jan Hiebl – he created the breathtaking ceiling. In the center of the library, you can see the unique collection of globes devoted to the Jesuits. At one point in history, the library was the third largest Jesuit college in the whole world.
The Astronomical Tower, the second building in the complex, was founded in 1722 and reconstructed a few years later, in 1751. It allows visitors to see the breathtaking view of Prague, especially the Old Town district.
Another Klementinum complex building is the Meridian Hall. It is situated on the second floor of the National Library. In the past, it was used for measuring, calculations, and determining the phases of the day. The last determination of noon was performed in 1928, almost 100 years ago. In the Meridian Hall, two walls are used to measure the angular distance between the objects in space and their height above the horizon.
Religious buildings, Churches and Chapels, are an integral part of Klementinum due to its religious roots. The Cathedral of St. Clement, The Church of the Holy Savior, The Italian Chapel of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and The Mirror Chapel are all open for the visitors. The highlights of the Mirror Chapel are an ornate confection of gilded stucco, ceiling mirrors, and gorgeous frescoes. In some of the churches, organ concerts are performed every month. For instance, the library is still one of the most popular venues for concerts of classical music. You can get more information by visiting the main website of the churches or the Klementinum complex.
Nowadays, Klementinum is one of the most popular touristic attractions. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm for everyone, including national and public holidays! Don’t miss your chance to have a guided tour in English: they are performed every hour with a limit of 25 people. Usually, the time of the tour lasts for about 50 minutes. You will learn about the unique history of the Baroque library hall, Meridian hall, and Astronomical tower. The admission tickets cost 300 Kc for adults, children under six years old are allowed in free of charge, and a special discount is available for students and seniors with a valid ID card.