Post river cruise, I visited Prague and one of the highlights of my trip was the visit to the Strahov Monastery and its Library Rooms. I had seen pictures of them in various publications and on the internet, always called the most beautiful library in the world, and I have to say they might very well be.
The Strahov Monastery dates from the 12th century and sits behind Prague Castle. There are two main library rooms that require special advance admission request (and payment). We had a private tour with a Virtuoso supplier that I would recommend to any client, they are based in Prague and super knowledgeable about their city. We were the only people in these magnificent rooms–myself and my sister, our guide Martin and a library docent making sure we did not touch the 12th century manuscripts or 16th century hand made celestial globes.
It felt super exclusive as we walked freely through these rooms listening to our guide Martin tell us about the library holdings and explain the Italian frescoes on the ceilings of both the Theological and Philosophical Rooms. The public that visits the monastery can only peek into a roped-off doorway to see a glimpse of these rooms, and here we were walking freely about and getting up close and reading the spines of 15th century books and checking out our astrological signs on the 1650 celestial standing globe.
There was also a small “oddities and antiquities” room that had a collection of botanical books literally made from the bark of the tree they were cataloguing and included leaves and even bugs from the specific tree species. There were some unusual taxidermied animals including a Dodo bird, and a full shirt of 12th century chainmail just hanging up on the wall, not even in a glass case. I half-expected Jon Snow to surprise me with a three-eyed raven.
I would absolutely recommend doing a private tour of the Strahov Monastery AND Prague Castle if you are lucky enough to get to Prague. And I know the very best local guides! It’s a wondrous city.