Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clementinum

The second largest complex of buildings (after Prague Castle), the Clementium has had a long and fascinating history and includes some of Prague’s most interesting architecture. It began life as an 11th-century chapel to St. Clement and eventually became a Jesuit college for hundreds of years. In 1773, it was established as an observatory, library, and university by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

In the 20th century, the Clementinum was incorporated into the National Library system and it is home to more than five million books. (Ironically, during its time as a Jesuit college, about 30,000 “heretical” books were burned in one of the courtyards.)

The complex includes five courtyards, the St. Salvator Church, St. Clements Church, and the Italian Chapel. The complex is also home to the Mozart Hall, which houses some of Mozart’s original manuscripts. Visitors to the Clementinum can also visit the Baroque Library Hall, the home of the Czech National Library, with 20,000 books dating back to the 16th century. There’s also the Astronomical Tower; you can climb 172 steep steps to the top for amazing views of Prague. The music lover’s visit wouldn’t be complete without touring the Mirror Chapel, a gorgeous space with extensive frescoes, artwork, carvings, and (you guessed it) mirrors. The Chapel also has an 18th-century organ played by Mozart himself.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

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