Do Not Miss Strahov Monastery’s Private Tour + Prague Castle (with a chance of underwear?)

Do Not Miss Strahov Monastery’s Private Tour + Prague Castle (with a chance of underwear?)

Our second walking tour day was mostly on the hill where Prague Castle and Strahov Monastery are situated. I think the best part of our tour was the monastery on the top of the hill. The Strahov Monastery on the hill overlooking Prague Castle is home to a collection of about a million books (or at least it felt like a million books). Every room on our tour was jam packed with books of every size, shape, and color everywhere you looked, and more books than I could read in my life (and boy do I read a ton)! In the first room of the library, our guide pointed out some strange cages. At first, I guessed that they were the spots that the books go when someone puts them on hold, but this was actually the place where the monks kept the forbidden books to avoid people finding and burning them.

Strahov Monastery Theological Hall
Book Jail

The second equally amazing room of the library was enormous and even had two secret passages up to the second floor walkways. The stairs are actually hidden in the corners of the room behind a wall of fake book spines. The doors to the staircases have keys in the bottom panel, but some of the real shelves (shelves with actual books) have fake keys in the exact same positioning as the keys to the hidden passages. At first, I guessed the second floor was decorative, but then I learned that the monks of Strahov Monastery actually used these stairs to reach the second floor. In summary, getting a private tour of the Strahov Monastery is very important to get the full experience here, and is possibly the best part of Prague… So don’t miss it!!! This website can give you more information about the library and the private tour: Strahov Tour Information or you can contact our guide at Caput Regni.

Strahov Monastery Philosophical Hall
Half way there…

Another great feature was the cabinet of curiosities, housing a remarkably well-preserved dodo among lots of equally interesting or strange artifacts. Some of the things that I remember most were armadillos, over 20 types of crabs and lobsters, and a narwhal tusk (which was actually believed to be the horn of a unicorn at the time).

A Stange Collection
Books with Seeds in Them

The next part of our tour was on the Prague Castle grounds. Prague Castle contains the office of the President and in my opinion is even more spectacular than the White House (from an architectural and historical standpoint). It is not just the central governmental office, it also houses the incredible Prague Castle grounds containing the Golden Lane and the St. Vitus Cathedral. The Cathedral is so big that it actually required the lifetimes of two architects to create this behemoth masterpiece of a cathedral in the 14th century.

St. Vitus Cathedral
Gargoyle Gutters
Golden Lane

After we walked to Prague Castle, our guide Lucka told us a very strange story about someone hanging giant bright red boxer briefs on the flagpole above the president’s office. Apparently, the president was very angry about it and he increased the security at the castle, and this is why you can now find security guards and metal detectors at the entrance. The guards at the castle range from the old traditional ones for the changing of the guard ceremony to newer ones wearing police uniforms and having modern weapons (not just ancient rifles). The castle and the basilica are amazing from an architectural standpoint, but are rather crowded and are better in the evening for close-up viewing.

After Prague Castle, we walked down the hill below it and found out that the buildings were covered in house signs. Some examples of these are a pear, a golden griffon, a blue trout, a golden carp, a red bear with a gold goblet, a golden horseshoe, and both black and golden eagles to name a few.

Another amazing destination that our guide recommended to us in Prague was the Alchemy Museum. We went here before dinner to pass the time, and it was great. It was amazing to see all of the tools of medieval alchemists and how they work in the lab. It was also amazing to see how objects as diverse as dried boa constrictors and pickled lizards actually had uses. I especially liked the homunculi section of the lab, closest to the wall on the left side as you enter the main room. To me, the best part of the entire museum was the drink bar after the tour. The drinks were served in glasses shaped like a potion flask and had all sorts of delicious combinations. Another great feature of the bar was that they put dry ice in the drinks to make them steam like a real potion. They were also quite delicious and were made with fresh ingredients. The delicious combination that I chose was lemon-orange, the perfect combination of two citrus flavors (but none of them were actually bad). Overall, this museum was one of the best things in Prague and was a super worthwhile detour.

Drinks at the Alchemy Museum
Wallenstein Palace + Incredible Peacocks
Moorhen at Wallenstein Palace
Adorable Fluff Balls with Giant Feet (aka Baby Moorhens)