The large Strahov Monastery is situated near the Prague Castle. It is a seat of the Premonstratensian Order since the 12 th century. It is one of the most important historical buildings in Prague. There are several places of interest in the area: the Strahov Picture Gallery, the Church of the Assumption, the Strahov Library with many historical documents and several impressive halls.
The Strahov Monastery was founded in 1140 by bishop Jindrich Zdik and Prince Vladislav II., who became King Vladislav I. later. The name “Strahov” means “guarding place”, because it is situated near the former road to the princely castle, which was guarded.
Relics of St. Norbert
The monastery was the largest Romanesque building in the Czech territory and possibly in the whole Europe at the time. It became an important sanctuary in 1627, when relics of St. Norbert were transferred there from Magdeburg. St. Norbert founded the Premonstratensian Order in 1120 in France, in the Premontre valley. His relics are kept in the St. Vorsila Chapel.
Strahov Monastery was despoiled by Swedish troops in 1648 and it had to be rebuilt – that´s when it gained the Baroque appearance. Participating architects were renowned: K. I. Dienzenhofer, Anselmo Lurago, Jean Baptiste Mathey.
Church of the Assumption – a Basilica minor
There is the Church of the Assumption in the centre of the monastery. It was promoted to Basilica minor, which is a title for the most important Catholic minsters. Its interior is decorated with frescoes of St. Norbert.
The Strahov Picture Gallery has a remarkable collection of the European art from the 14 th to the 19 th century.
Strahov Library with many valuable books
There are lots of valuable documents in the Strahov Library. Manuscripts, earliest prints, and more are kept in the Baroque Theological Hall from 1671. The oldest parchment gospel-book is from the 9 th century. There are also Dutch globes from the 17 th century in the hall. The main hall of the new classicist library building is the Philosophical Hall. It is 32 metres long and there are 50 000 books kept there. The ceiling is covered with amazing fresco painting by A. Maultbertsch.
MIRO Gallery in St. Roch Church
The Gothic-Renaissance Church of St. Roch located to the left of the entrance was built between 1603 and 1612. The church is desecrated nowadays and the MIRO Gallery is situated there. It focuses on expositions of classical masters such as Dali or Chagall.
The area of the Strahov Monastery also includes a garden with a sala terrena and a view terrace with a baroque pavilion. The main entrance is decorated with a Baroque gateway from the 18 th century, holding a statue of St. Norbert. A statue of the same saint is situated on a column in the middle of the courtyard.
Strahov Monastery was violently occupied by Communists in 1950, but it was given back to the Premonstratensian Order after the revolution in 1989.