This former Jesuit college in the Prague Old Town is the second largest building complex in the city, after the Prague Castle. It is spread over five courtyards and includes the St Salvator Church, St Clements Church, the Italian Chapel, the Mirror Chapel and other places. Clementinum used to be the educational center of the city, but also a symbol of catholic oppression in the country since the 17 th century.
Jesuit College in Clementinum
Various legends are connected with this residence of the Jesuit order, and dramatic scenes took place in the area – such as burning about 30 000 “heretical” books on one of the courtyards, organized by the Jesuit Antonin Konias at the time of culminating counter-reformation.
The Jesuits were invited to Prague by the Emperor Ferdinand I. in 1556. They soon established their own Catholic University as a counterbalance to the Protestant Charles University. In 1653 they started to build their residence Clementinum, which was finished in the 18 th century. After the victory of the Catholic troops at the White Mountain in Prague in 1620, the Jesuits also took over the Charles University.
Treasure hidden in Clementinum
The Enlightenment reformist Emperor Joseph II. forced them to leave Prague in 1773. It is said, that they have left their enormous treasure hidden somewhere in the Clementinum, because they believed they will come back soon. The legend says, that they woke up a poor bricklayer in the night, took him blindfolded to Clementinum and paid him to wall up a place, where they put the treasure. On the way back, the bricklayer heard clearly the clock of the Clementinum strike. He came back later, but never found the place again.
After the Jesuits have left, the Clementinum became an archi-episcopal seminary and a library. It remained a seat of two University faculties and there was a centre of the student rebels in 1848.
National Library in Prague
In the 20 th century, the Clementinum became an area of the National Library in Prague and the Technical Library. There is a collection of about 5 million books, the oldest of them are from the 14 th century. There are some valuable documents of the Slavonic history.
Inside the building complex, there are historical rooms such as the former Jesuit Library, the Mozart Hall with some of the Mozart´s manuscripts, and the Mathematical Hall with the valuable astronomical clock.
There is a meteorological observatory in the Clementinum, which studies the climate continually since the 18 th century. The regular precipitation measuring takes place there since 1804, it is one of the oldest precipitation measuring in the Central Europe.
The statue in the first courtyard commemorates Prague students defending Prague against the siege of the Swedish army in 1648.