The complex was founded by a group of priests and scholars (famously called the Jesuits) in the 16th century .
It contains a baroque library, which in the past was a part of the school complex, but it, later on, merged with the Charles University of Prague.
The name of the Klementinum is derived from its location and history. Before it was what the Jesuits made it to be, the Chapel of St. Clement was located there (made in the 11th century).
The complex is divided into three parts.
The first one is the previously mentioned baroque library. The second one is called the meridian hall, while finally at the end is the top of the astronomical tower.
The National Library
This library was opened in the 18th century and is home to approximately 20000 books.
One is not simply allowed to walk through it, check the books or read anything since only approved people can get full access to what this library has to offer.
However, most of the books are available to everyone in digital form (they can easily be found on Google).
The room is dimly lit in order to protect the books. The temperature and humidity are also controlled.
In the center of the library, there are some extraordinary astronomical globes and the ceiling is decorated with beautiful mirrors.
Another interesting fact is that part of the library collection is a book called Vyšehrad Codex .
It is a text dating back to the 11th century and is estimated to cost around 45 million USD.
It was written for the coronation of the first-ever Czech King, Bratislav the Second.
For the curious minds, a copy of this book is available for purchase, as a souvenir at the entrance of the Klementinum Library.
The Meridian Hall
The next part is the meridian hall. This is a room where telescopes are put on display. Here, you’re going to find special astronomical equipment which was mostly used for meteorological observations.
It has large windows, astonishing frescoes, and all types of mirrors.
Back then, by the appearance of rays at specific parts of the room and their reflections, the people working there could know what time of the day was.
As a part of this segment is the Mirror Chapel. It is not usually open for viewers and can only be viewed on special occasions.
Klementinum Astronomical Tower
Klementinum Astronomical Tower is a rare spot from where you can see both Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge.
It basically gives you a 360 view over the magnificent Prague skyline.
Apart from the view, on the way up, an additional bunch of old measurement instruments is on display. This complex is probably the first of this kind in Europe, where serious and deeply scientific observations of the meteorological conditions were studied.
At this place, the daily temperature has been measured and written down since 1775.
Information on the Guided Tours
A standard tour through the Klementinum lasts approximately 50 minutes.
It is a very entertaining experience, with narration that follows you as you are climbing to the top of this historical complex.
The groups are limited to 9 people. The narration is fully in English.
It is important to say that the whole trip is 137 stairs long.
The Bottom Line
If you ever visit the Czech Republic, to be more specific, if you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of Prague: the Klementinum is one of the top things you definitely must-see.
It is a fascinating historic complex, nowadays combining the Charles University, the Technical University of Prague, and the National Library.
This library complex is one of the largest complexes after the Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic, as well as Europe.
It’s a stunningly gorgeous baroque piece of art.