What can be more timeless, than the written word? What can fuel our imagination, what can inspire us, educate us, comfort us, relax us and be our true companion more powerfully than a book?
I have always loved books, as long as I can remember. Second to drawing, submerging myself in a book was a wonderful timescape for me since childhood. I frequented the libraries in every city I lived in and I recall with amusement today, how I used to bribe my little sister with a bag of potato chips (she was crazy about them!), to make her come with me to the library, when I was about nine years old.
When we moved to Sweden, I recall the library being my very best friend. The books helped me to learn a foreign language and to become familiar with the spoken word in my new country.
The other day I thought about the libraries of the world. There must be so many, but which are the the absolutely most astounding? Curious Expeditions lists twenty most beautiful ones. Among these is the Strahov Monastery Library in Prague, truly one of a kind.
Unfortunately, closed to the public today, one can still visit the monastery itself and stand in the entrance to the library halls, casting a glance at the vastness of space filled with ancient script. Everything takes ones breath away, not just the books, but the rooms themselves. Such as the the Theological Hall, with its intricate and beautifully painted baroque vaulted ceiling. My father recalls, that shortly after the velvet revolution, the library was freely accessible, and he marveled over the opulence of the rooms.
I have visited the library only once, but the impression is everlasting.
The Strahov Monastery was founded in 1140 by bishop Jindrich Zdik and Prince Vladislav II. Strahov can translate into something similar to Guarded. This name comes most likely from the fact that the monastery was build close to a guarded road in the vicinity of the Prague Castle. The library houses within its walls priceless scripts. Over the course of centuries, the monks inhabiting the monastery collected and kept one of the world's most beautifully preserved collections of philosophical and theological texts, including illuminated manuscripts and first editions. The collections consist of about 200 000 old prints (mostly from the period between the 16th through 18th century), around 3000 manuscripts and 1500 first prints. One of the most precious items is the Strahov Evangeliary from the 9th century. The library displays two opulently decorated halls: the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall.
Today, the monastery itself is still a home to Premonstratensian monks, a scholarly order closely related to the Jesuits.