The Klementinum – History in the Middle of Prague

The large building complex of the Klementinum in the middle of Prague’s Old Town looks back on a long history and today houses the National Library of the Czech Republic (Národní knihovna České republiky) and several scientific institutes. It is located near the Charles Bridge and played an important role in the history of weather recording in the Czech Republic.

Klementinum – Its history

In 1556 Emperor Ferdinand invited the Jesuits to Prague. He left them an old and already dilapidated monastery, so they could build a college there, which would compete with the Charles University. In the first ten years, however, the financial situation was worse than expected and both teachers and students struggled with the problematic living conditions.

It was not until the end of the 16th century that restoration work began, and in the 17th century the Klementinum and the Charles University were united.

The construction of today’s Klementinum in Baroque style lasted over 30 years – from 1953 to 1726. The Klementinum also includes the astronomical tower, in which mainly position observations were carried out. The meteorological measurements began in 1752, and from 1775 they were recorded daily. Scientists can still access this work today.

The Jesuits ended their rule in 1773 and Maria Theresa established the National Library at the Klementinum, which can still be visited today. Moreover, the oldest Mozart memorial in the world is housed inside the Klementinum. It has been there since 1837.

The exhibition today

The Spiegelkapelle still hosts regular classical music concerts. In the Astronomical Tower you can look over Prague from a height of 68m. In addition, the Baroque Library Hall is well known and houses valuable book collections and globes. It is also decorated with magnificent frescoes. Visitors can admire a facsimile of the Vyšehrad codex, which dates from the 11th century and is richly illustrated, in the auditorium of the library.

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