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  • Writer's pictureConstance M, A Well-Read Wanderer

Prague’s Gorgeous Strahov Library: A Visitor’s Guide

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Across the bridge from Old Town Prague, a bookish-minded visitor can make their way to one of my favorite and most unique things to do in Prague: visit the incredible Strahov monastery library.

Actually, if we are going to be precise, at the Strahov Monastery, a visitor can find not one but two Prague libraries, both elaborately decorated and filled with ancient and valuable books.

The Strahov Monastery dates back to as early as 1140 BC, although the current buildings were rebuilt more recently. The two libraries and hidden depositories collectively house more than 200,000 books, most dating from the 10th to 17th centuries.

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This was one of the most beautiful libraries I've ever visited, and that's definitely saying something, as literary travel is kind of my thing. I've spent the last year scoping out the best bookstores in Paris, visiting the Chateau d'If Count of Monte Cristo prison in Marseille, and checking out some of Europe's most beautiful bookstores.

So whether you're looking for bookish sights in Prague, or what to do in Prague in December, or what to do in Prague on a rainy day, a visit to this famous Prague library should definitely be on your itinerary.

I'll tell you some of the history of Strahov library and let you know how to visit and what to expect from your visit.

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prague libraries strahov library literary travel unique things to do in prague famous library in prague

As always, this post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, shopping from them may generate small commissions to support the operations of this blog.

Whenever possible, I recommend buying books at local bookshops or through, because shopping there puts the profits right into the hands of indie bookstores all over the country.


What you'll see at Strahov Library

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Prague's Strahov library houses more than 200,000 volumes of books dating as far back as the 9th century

Prague's Strahov library is contained inside an ancient monastery. It might be one of the most famous Prague libraries today, but its popularity is not a recent development. For centuries, it has been an important center of culture and learning.

Even Napoleon's wife, Marie Louise, visited Prague's Strahov library in 1812 and donated some of her personal books to the important and sizable collection.

The Strahov library actually consists of two main library rooms that visitors are allowed to see (there are also depositories and a vault for rare manuscripts, but these are not accessible to outside visitors). The two library rooms you will see when you visit this beautiful Prague library are the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall.

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The Theological Hall of the Strahov Library in Prague

Strahov Library Theological Hall

The Theological Hall of the Strahov library is the older of the two rooms and is an elaborate and memorable Baroque library. This room houses more than 20,000 books, including one entire wall of different editions of the Bible and its components. The oldest book in the collection is a 9th century Book of the Gospels written on parchment.

As you gaze around this beautiful Prague library built in the 1600s, take in the terrestrial and astronomical globes in the center, the painted red wood shelving, the ornately carved ceiling, and the book wheel, a unique invention you'll find on the left side of the room. This book wheel was built in the 1670s to allow the monks to read or consult multiple books at once. A turning gear allows the shelves' angle to remain constant so the books don't slide off when the wheel is turned.

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Strahov Library Philosophical Hall

The Philosophical Hall is actually the first room you'll see when you enter the Strahov libraries, though it is the more recent addition to the monastery. This gorgeous library was added in 18th century to accommodate the monastery's ever-growing book collection. Any book lover who's ever run out of shelf space can empathize with this predicament, though can perhaps only dream of such a grand and beautiful solution.

This Prague library room is decorated in the Classical style, as opposed to the Theological Hall's Baroque style. The gorgeous walnut shelves hold more than 50,000 books. Whereas the neighboring library houses primarily religious texts, the Philosophical Hall contains works on law, philosophy, history, and science.

The ceilings of this beautiful Prague library are covered in frescoes by an Italian painter. The theme of the frescoes is a journey into wisdom, telling the story of mankind's journey into philosophy and science.

What else to see at Strahov Library

As you walk the corridor connecting the Strahov Theological and Philosophical Halls, pause to check out the unique items in the curiosity cabinets lining the hallway. You’ll find such unique objects as a narwhal tusk (believed to have been a unicorn horn at the time) and various ancient weaponry and other artifacts. You'll also see some replicas of some of the oldest texts contained in the library's collection.

If you buy a combo ticket to the Strahov library, you will also be able to visit to the monastery's art gallery.


Where is the Strahov library?

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The Strahov library is located inside the Strahov Monastery, which is in Prague’s little quarter, not far from the Prague Castle. You’ll find it across the Vlatava River from Prague’s old town, by either walking across the famous Charles Bridge or taking a cheap and easy Prague tram.

You’ll enter the Strahov library and purchase a ticket, choosing between either a library only ticket, or a slightly more expensive combination with access to the Strahov Gallery. This art museum houses a unique collection of Baroque, Rococo, and Gothic paintings.

The two Strahov libraries are located in the same, clearly marked building, within the monastery grounds.

Strahov library address:

Strahovské nádvoří 1/132
118 00 Praha 1 – Hradčany


How to visit: can you go inside Prague's Strahov library?

The Strahov monastery libraries house a unique collection of incredibly old books, and as such, the books are very delicate. These antiquarian books require a carefully monitored microclimate in order to preserve the books for many years to come, so the number of visitors allowed in the rooms is kept to a minimum.

If you want go beyond the doorway and go inside the Strahov library, you’ll need to contact the Strahov monastery on their website to try to schedule a rare, guided tour. This is not a guarantee, but if you want the best shot at going inside the Strahov library, contact the monastery a month or more in advance of your visit.

Otherwise, you’ll have to content yourself with looking in through the door and taking it all in from there.

I’ll say, even without walking inside, the Strahov library is a must-see sight in Prague. Actually, the experience is even more magical for the lack of crowds inside. It allows you to take in the majesty of each room without jostling your way through crowds of phone photographers.

You can buy tickets for the Strahov library online or at the box office. Credit cards are accepted.



Tips for visiting the Strahov Library

The Strahov library is a unique thing to do in Prague, one of its hidden gems, so you're unlikely to encounter huge crowds there. You can work it into your schedule whenever it is open. At most, you may have to wait a few minutes at the doorway to each library to get your best viewing angle.

After your visit to the Strahov library, consider hiking or taking the funicular up nearby Petrin Hill, then climbing Petrin Tower. Petrin Tower is a mini Eiffel Tower, which you can pay to climb. It's absolutely worth the price and the glute burn for incredible views of Prague.

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Views of Prague while climbing Petrin Tower

Also, make sure that when you're done at Strahov library, you pay a visit to the nearby Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore, one of my favorite English bookstores in Prague.


Finding Accommodations in Prague

As you look for somewhere to stay in Prague, I recommend checking for lodging on I almost always book my accommodations through, because you can earn rewards for every night you stay without having to choose only one hotel chain to be loyal to. You can even book locally owned aparthotels and bed and breakfasts.


Travel Resources At-A-Glance

All of the following are links to sites and services I actually use to book and plan my travel or to purchase books or travel gear.

For flights: Skyscanner is my number one go-to resource for booking flights. I love using the “explore” function to find the cheapest places I can fly during a given time, or using the fare calendar to identify the cheapest days to fly.

For hotels and lodgings: For hotels, and for vacation rentals, I’ve had much better experiences with private rentals through this website than through other popular private vacation rental websites.

For car rentals: Kayak allows comparisons across a wide range of booking agencies and lists reviews of companies as well. I’ve found this to be the most user-friendly and efficient way to compare car rental prices.

For tours & excursions: Viator is my top choice for booking excursions and tour experiences in a new destination.

For travel gear: and REI for more outdoorsy items. Check out my travel gear recs here.

Best travel credit card: My favorite travel rewards credit card for European travel has been the Chase Sapphire Rewards card. Visa is accepted just about everywhere in Europe, and there are no foreign transaction fees on the card. Some of the travel benefits I love on the Chase Sapphire include free TSA pre check or Global Entry (worth it every time), an annual $200 travel credit, an annual $200 hotel benefit, built-in rental car and trip insurance, and points are worth 50% more when used to book travel. I travel around Europe a LOT, and I end up with many free flights and hotel stays from using my points on my Chase Sapphire.

For books: often has prices as good as Amazon or sometimes better, but profits go to indie bookstores all over the country. Whenever possible, consider buying your books from this online indie bookshop resource.


The Strahov Library is one of Prague's hidden gems. While I never need an excuse to visit a beautiful library, the Strahov monastery is a great choice if you're looking for what to do in Prague in December, as it's a perfect way to escape the winter cold.

What other beautiful libraries have you visited in Europe?

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prague libraries strahov library literary travel unique things to do in prague famous library in prague


Hi, thanks for dropping by!

I'm an avid reader and traveler, writing all about literary travel, books, tea, and chocolate.

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