During the winter holiday I visited Prague for the first time. The trip was also my birthday gift, but we picked the destination together with my DH. We wanted something that was not too far away from Finland (long flights with a mercurial six-year-old are not exactly a relaxing way to start and end a holiday), that was fairly affordable, and where there'd be something interesting to see and do. I must say we picked the perfect place! I had heard that Prague is a beautiful city, but I had no idea just how stunning it is. Old buildings, narrow streets, bridges spanning the river... we spent most of the time just wandering around the old town because we simply couldn't stop – behind every corner, there was something beautiful to see!
We never make detailed travel plans, but we often have a ”might be nice to see” list. This usually contains some of the ”must-see” sights, especially if they've something to do with history, literature/books, or chocolate.
I had heard that the Prague city library boasts an interesting piece of art – a tower all made of books! That sounded like something worth seeing. So there we were, outside the library, when it opened its doors on Saturday morning. The book tower was impressive – not only is it a big pile of books, there are also mirrors placed cunningly inside the tower so that when you look inside, it appears to go on infinitely. And the best part was, there just happened to be a group of musicians dressed in what looked like traditional costumes performing what we assumed were folk songs in the library lobby, right in front of the book tower! We went in looking for one art experience but got two!
The second book-related attraction was something we'd not even heard of and discovered quite by accident. We took a taxi to the Prague Castle area, and the taxi driver asked us if we'd rather go higher up the hill, to visit a monastery there – it's a short walk down to the castle from the monastery and the view is just stunning. He mentioned that there's a library with beautiful old books and manuscripts... and that settled it!
For me, Strahov Monastery, or rather, its library, was one of the highlights of the entire trip. There were beautiful old tomes and ancient manuscripts – the kind that look just magical. I can't imagine how much patience and painstaking work it must have taken to not only write them but to make the beautiful illustrations! They were amazing.
And there were two library rooms straight from a book lover's dream. Just look at those shelves – they were packed with books, it wasn't just one row, it was at least two. And the old globes with their maps, the frescoes on the ceilings, the respectful silence, the scent of old books... There was no access into these two rooms, which was a pity but perfectly understandable (I suspect you had to book a tour and we hadn't prepared for that), and I was content just stading there and looking in. It was quiet and peaceful, I could have stayed there forever.
If you love books and if you find yourself in Prague one day, don't miss the libraries!