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Clementinum

Clementinum

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The Clementinum is a historic complex of buildings in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

. Until recently the complex hosted the National, University and Technical libraries, the City Library also being located nearby on Mariánské Náměstí. The Technical library and the Municipal library have moved to the Prague National Technical Library
Prague National Technical Library
The National Technical Library is located at Technická 6 in Prague 6 and also houses the Municipal Library. The former site of the National Technical Library was the Klementinum, from which all books and materials were moved to the new library after completion of construction...

 at Technická 6 since 2009. It is currently in use as the National Library
National library
A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a country to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books...

 of the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

. In 2005 the Czech National Library received the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Jikji prize (Memory of the World).

History




Its history dates from the existence of a chapel
Chapel
A chapel is a building used by Christians as a place of fellowship and worship. It may be part of a larger structure or complex, such as a church, college, hospital, palace, prison or funeral home, located on board a military or commercial ship, or it may be an entirely free-standing building,...

 dedicated to Saint Clement
Saint Clement
-People:* Pope Clement I, also known as St. Clement of Rome, , martyr and fourth pope* Saint Clement of Metz fl. 4th century), first bishop of Metz* Clement of Alexandria , distinguished teacher of the early Christian Church...

in the 11th century. A Dominican monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 was founded in the medieval period
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, which was transformed in 1556 to a Jesuit college. In 1622 the Jesuits transferred the library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 of Charles University to the Klementinum, and the college was merged with the University in 1654. The Jesuits remained until 1773, when the Klementinum was established as an observatory
Observatory
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geology, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed...

, library, and university by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma...

.

The National Library was founded in 1781 and from 1782 the Klementinum was a legal deposit
Legal deposit
Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19 . Typically, the national library is one of the...

 library. In 1918 the newly-established Czecho-Slovak state
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 took over the library. Since 1990, it has been the National Library. It contains a collection of Mozartiana, material pertaining to Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe
Tycho Brahe , born Tyge Ottesen Brahe, was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations...

 and Comenius
Comenius
John Amos Comenius ; ; Latinized: Iohannes Amos Comenius) was a Czech teacher, educator, and writer. He served as the last bishop of Unity of the Brethren, and became a religious refugee and one of the earliest champions of universal education, a concept eventually set forth in his book Didactica...

, as well as historic examples of Czech literature
Czech literature
Czech literature is the literature written by Czechs or other inhabitants of the Czech state, mostly in the Czech language, although other languages like Old Church Slavonic, Latin or German have been also used, especially in the past. Modern authors from the Czech territory who wrote in other...

. The architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 is a notable example of Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 and Clementinum, covering 20,000 square metres, is the second largest complex of buildings in Prague after the Prague Castle
Prague Castle
Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here...

.
For several years before 2006, there was an on-going debate on the possibilities of expanding the space for future library collections, as the room in the current Clementinum buildings is expected to reach its limit by 2010. On Jan 10, 2006, the Prague authorities decided to sell the city-owned property located in the area of Letná
Letná
Letná is an informal quarter of Prague, the Czech Republic. It belongs to Holešovice and Bubeneč quarters.The main part of Letná is Letná Plain , a large empty plain, and Letná Park . The football stadium of AC Sparta Prague, Generali Arena, is located here....

 near the Prague center, to the National Library. In Spring 2006, an international architectural design competition
Architectural design competition
An architectural design competition is a special type of competition in which an organization or government body that plans to build a new building asks for architects to submit a proposed design for a building. The winning design is usually chosen by an independent panel of design professionals...

 for the new building was put up. An architect who won the competition is Jan Kaplický, but his winning was infirmed, so the Czech National Library is still waiting for its final project.

Curiosities


  • At one time the Clementinum was known as the third largest Jesuit college in the world.
  • The oldest weather recording in the area of the Czech lands
    Czech lands
    Czech lands is an auxiliary term used mainly to describe the combination of Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia. Today, those three historic provinces compose the Czech Republic. The Czech lands had been settled by the Celts , then later by various Germanic tribes until the beginning of 7th...

     started in Clementinum in the year 1775. The recording continues through the present day.
  • The Clementinum is mentioned in "The Secret Miracle
    The Secret Miracle
    "The Secret Miracle" is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It was first published in the magazine Sur in February 1943.-Plot:...

    " by Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

    . The main character has a dream of the library of Clementinum where the librarians look for God in the books of the library. One of the librarians says:

God is in one of the letters of one of the pages of one of the four hundred thousand books of Clementinum. My fathers and the fathers of my fathers have looked for this letter; I myself have gone blind looking for it. So, a reader enters and delivers an atlas
Atlas
An atlas is a collection of maps; it is typically a map of Earth or a region of Earth, but there are atlases of the other planets in the Solar System. Atlases have traditionally been bound into book form, but today many atlases are in multimedia formats...

 for the main character, saying that this atlas is useless. The main character opens the book at random, and find a map of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, touching one of its minimum letters and, then, finds God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

.
  • The Baroque library hall inside Clementinum is known for its beautiful interior, including ceiling artwork by Jan Hiebl.

External links