Well it seems that the subject for last week’s Bookshelf of the Week, didn’t inflame as many bibilophile’s hearts at I would have liked it to. So this week I’m pulling out all the stops in a ‘shock and awe’ style, full frontal attack on the senses, with this incredible shot of the remarkable Philosophical Hall in the Premonstratensian Monastery in Strahov, Prague (for the greatest impact, I urge you to view this shot in full size).
Constructed in the latter quarter of the eighteenth-century to meet the demands of an ever expanding monastic library, Philosophical Hall was built under the guidance of Abbot Václav Mayer, by Italian architect Jan Ignác Palliardi. Showing an excellent attitude towards eco-friendliness (or more probably to save on expenditure), the splendid walnut interior – constructed in the Early Classical Style – is formed from the interior of another Premonstratensian monastery (Louka), which was being made defunct around the time that the Strahov Monastery was getting its ‘upgrade’.
The incredible ceiling fresco – which for once overshadows both books and bookshelves – is the creation of Austrian painter Anton Maulbertsch. Along with depicting the age-old quest for knowledge, Maulbertsch’s fresco (which is incidentally called Intellectual Progress of Mankind) illustrates various developments in science and religion and the impact that these developments had on one another. What an appropriate theme for a monastic library.
Philosophical Hall has a stunning interior I’m sure you’ll agree, but this space only forms one half of the great Strahov Monastery library. Even older – and some may say even more ornate – is Theological Hall, which was built in the latter half of the seventeenth-century under Abbot Jeroným Hirnhaim. I could go on to show you the interior of this library too but that would be outside of the scope of this feature. Instead I invite you to explore Theological Hall for yourself on the Strahov Monastery website, where, along with 360 degree views of both of these stunning library interiors (unmissable!), you can also find more information on the main star of this week’s Bookshelf of the Week.
So that was Theological Hall dear reader. Did I manage to impress you enough this week?