Strahov Monastery Library

The photo in this story is of the Philosophical Hall, part of the library of the massive Strahov Monastery in the hills above Prague in the Czech Republic which I just got around to processing. Strahov Monastery was founded in 1143, and is a Premonstratensian abbey.

It has been in more or less continuous operation since then (with a short break for the Jan Huss matter when it was attacked and pillaged by the citizens of Prague) until the communist takeover. This part of the library (the Philosophical Hall) was built in the late 1700s.

Under the communists it was turned into a National Literature Memorial. After the velvet revolution, the Strahov Monastery was returned to the Premonstratensian diocese, with restoration still underway in the famous libraries and also the monks devotional efforts to brewing quality beer.

Strahov Monastery Library © Harold Davis

Strahov Monastery Library © Harold Davis

In Prague, my apartment was a short distance from Strahov, and I listened to the monastery bells through the night, and ate at the open-to-the-public refectory most days. The specialty was beer, and everything was cooked in monastery beer, from beer-battered ribs, to beer-flavored ice cream.

To photograph the library required buying a special pass. I was allowed to use my tripod, but it was hard to get a few moments with an unblocked view into the Philosophical Hall, and ultimately I removed the other tourists, their cameras and their backpacks, from the photo using the Photoshop retouching techniques explained in my Photoshop Darkroom 2 (the major case study in that book was taken up with removing a friend’s leg and foot from a spiral stair in Havana, Cuba).

Related image: Great Hall Heidelberg University.

Some other images from Prague: Spires of Prague; Inside the Old Market Tower; House of Mirrors.

This entry was posted in Czech, Photography.


  1. Robert of Prague April 8, 2016 at 6:38 pm #

    Hi Harold;

    First off, just finished your “Creative Landscapes” book; great help & resource. I recognized the cover since I’ve been in the W.M. in March 2008 btw Mammoth & Death V.

    My daughter (native of Chicago NW-U Hospital) loves Prague, the Astro-clock & the Strahov Baroque library; your shot looks part photo/part painting. You’re both, duh. Further, I’d like to know how you twisted the arms of officials/priests to get to the top of St. Vitus…? Did you shoot the windows & rosette? The best real Gothic windows are at Chartres C. – Check out the reflections on the floor; can be seen only there or at Amiens.
    However, I dig, AMOT, your Yosemite foggy shots – Wow factor! I’ve been there 3X, once in March & haven’t seen light like you did.
    Happy trails to Paris & forgive the long rant.

    Having an eyesight handicap (partially blind in R-eye, the injury is next to the macula/optical nerve – can’t see much straight out), I need a tablet/ext monitor tethered via USB/HDMI (or Wi-Fi) to my 1. Sony Alpha APS-C e-mount &/or Nikon D700 or Nikon 1 J4 cameras, so that I can see clear & sharp & accurate copy of the LCD screen & the camera settings -before- I shoot. I shoot in hybrid RAW + JPG & bracketed HDR (AF [cannot see/focus MF] + rest manual; f2-22; ISO 100-800; bulb, 1/4K-30 secs shutter). Have all the HW & SW, the remotes work but the LCD even on the FX D700 is too small for me.
    My specialty is deep backcountry (on foot) alpine (Rockies) & desert (US-SW) pix of unusual formations & wide panos & blue/golden light. I am a ret. geologist & semi-pro photographer finishing my 1st book being printed in Germany by CEWE. The tablet has to be Android OS for the remote control app & SD card slot for backup (128 GB is fine). I do all editing on home PC in Lr, Topaz Labs, Nik & CaptureOne Pro9.
    I’ve looked at the Galaxy Tab S2 8″, very impressed but 400$$ blows the budget since I need a new wide-angle prime glass for the Sony: 700-1000$$ – the 1st camera I take backpacking. All 3 w/ diff. lenses each on day hikes.
    I am looking for a 7-8″ tablet/ext monitor for ~200$ – even used/refurb, w/ best HD screen available; don’t care about other use/apps but as my 2nd eye & backup.

    If you could kindly point me in the right direction (I’ve been doing my homework for 2 months), I’d be very grateful.
    I’m heading to S-UT/N-AZ in 2 weeks, Zion, GSENM, Waterpocket Fold, Lake Powell, White Pocket, Cedar Mesa Anasazi ruins, Canyonlands. Been going there for 26 years & just scratching the surface. Some of the most surreal morphology on this planet.

    The photos on my URL are ancient scanned & un-edited prints from a 35mm Pentax.

    Thank you & have a great magic-light weekend.

    Robert of Prague

  2. Harold Davis April 9, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    Robert, thanks for the great comment. But I’m sorry, I don’t know much about Android tablets, so I can’t help you with this. Very best wishes, Harold

  3. Robert of Prague April 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm #

    Harold; You’re reply is still appreciated due to your schedule.
    Un bon voyage a Paris et bonne chance partout. (I lived 12 y in ‘CH’ & in Gascony) You’re doing a tour, however, should you have time afterwards, may I suggest a visit to the ‘Cote de Granit Rose’ in N-Brittany (the poor, generous & musical people are Celtic, not French) but stay on the N-coast from St. Malo heading W. I bet you’ve seen Mt. Saint Michele, so, head/fly to Rennes => St. Malo, St. Brieuc, till Morlaix. A guy like you will go nuts, I guarantee it! While there, this is a must do: “chemin des douaniers”
    And keep your eye on Chartres/Amiens if you haven’t seen yet. If yes, you know about the 1000 y old glass.
    Another very ‘photogenetic’ region in F/G is Alsace/Lorraine – we are from there back since 14 H.

    FYI: I’m getting this toy as my 2nd eye: 1/2 price of the Tab S2, fast OS for burst/bracketed mode & almost as many pixels.

    Lastly, the flight to Paris is long, so, I’d really like to know how you got to the top of St. Vitus.


    Robert of Prague

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  1. By Best of 2015: Backwards and Forwards on January 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    […] Under the communists the library was turned into a National Literature Memorial. After the velvet revolution, the Strahov Monastery was returned to the Premonstratensian diocese, with restoration still underway in the famous libraries and also the monks devotional efforts to brewing quality beer. Read more. […]

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