česky

Chapel of Mirrors, Clementinum

Address:

Zrcadlová kaple
Klementinum
Mariánské náměstí 190
110 01 Praha 1

Entrance to Clementinum is possible from :

Mariánské square
Karlova street

Links:

National Library Prague
Map of the area  (173 kB)
Ortofotomap of the area (145 kB)
Fotogallery of the Chapel 

The Mirror Chapel, consacrated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, was built, most probably, by the architect Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer in 1724 for the noble Marian Congregation. The stucco decoration with mirrors was carried out by Beernard Spinetti and ceiling fresco compositions were painted by Jan Hiebl. The frescoes depicts in stripes the individual verses of the prayer Ave Maria - Heil Mary. A Latin text of the prayer can be found and read in the frescoes.

The first stripe presents the Holy Virgin as the intercessor for salvation of the world - "Ave Maria, Full of grace". Next two stripes - St Mary under the copula of a dome, and St Mary on the Mount of Sinai among Judith, Ruth and Esther - accompany verses " The Lord is with you, you are the most blessed of all woman". The fourth stripe - St Mary with Jesus child - belongs to the end of the prayer " And blessed is the fruit of your live". The last stripe above the choir symbolizes a mission of the Marian Congregation, which is represented by a nobleman surrounded by a ruler, a rector, a doctor, a lawyer, an astronomer etc.

Ceiling mirrors placed in rich stucco decoration are original, probably from the year 1725. Mirrors on the walls are only replicas of the original ones and were made during a restauration of the chapel in 1980's.
Walls of the chapel are also decorated with four oil-paintings by the Czech baroque painter Václav Vavřinec Reiner, all after the year 1725.
* Angel reveals St Joseph the Conception of Christ;
* Joachim and Anne teach the Virgin Mary;
* Zachariah and Elizabeth with John the Baptist as a boy;
* St John Evangelist writes the Apocalypse.

After the restauration the paintings were placed back to the chapel. A balustrade of the choir is a specimen of a rare stone art work. A statuette of St Joseph with Jesus child in his arms is placed in a niche below the balustrade.
The chapel is decorated both with genuine marble and with its imitation - faux marble, which is considered now a historical antiquity, because the workshop specialized in this art are very rare nowadays.
An organ on the choir dating from 1732 was built by the Jesuit organ-builder Tomáš Schwarz. The organ was moved out of the chapel in 1783 and returned in 1971.

Another organ, built in a torso of an altar, is assigned to Jan Ondřej Niederle and dates from about the 2nd half of the 18th century.
The chapel was repeatedly consacrated and deconsacrated. Since 1936 is has served as a concert and exhibition hall.
A classicist annex-resaut to the chapel is an outbuilding constructed by the architect Mathias Hummel in 1780 in order to support the baroque library hall on the 1st floor, the ceiling of which began to break open at the time.

The Mirror Chapel belongs to the area of Clementinum, a former Jesuit College and University (from 1556 to 1777). In Jesuit times, this Catholic college competed at first with Charles University and then, in the post-White-Mountain period, Jesuits merge activities of the two Universities and their libraries. After the suppression of the Jesuit Order in 1773, the Clementinum remained a seat of the State University - philosophical and mathematical studies, astronomy, theology - and its library. Since 1777 the library has been open to the public.

Nowadays, the Clementinum is a seat of the National Library in Prague and of the State Technical Library. National Library in Prague collects, preserves and makes accessible all the book production printed in our country - since 1991 including the audiovisual production. It serves traditionally as a university library and possesses the largest collection of foreign literature in the Czech Republic.
The library holds in its 6 million volume collections the most precious anitquities of Czech origin, such as Codex Vysehradensis (1085), Passional of Abbess Cunigund (1312), and the Velislav Bible in pictures (cca mid-14th century). 

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