One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the Tomb Raider series is the inclusion of real-life artefacts and locations in the games, even if the level designers and artists employed a heavy dose of artistic license in their efforts. During a family trip to Prague this Easter, I made a point of exploring the city’s Strahov district with my husband in tow (my mum declined the invitation in favour of some retail therapy) and we soon discovered that, shock horror, the real Strahov had little in common with its fictional counterpart in Angel of Darkness.
For those who haven’t played Angel of Darkness in a while, the game’s “Strahov Fortress” level took place inside a large industrial complex (or warehouse) and Luddick, the journalist Lara runs into near Vasiley’s apartment, described Strahov as “the Mafia centre of operations in Prague”. While the fortress itself is entirely fictional, there is a real Strahov district on the west bank of the Vltava river and is within a few minutes walk from the Prague Castle complex in the city’s “Castle District”, Hradčany.
The key attraction of Strahov district is the Strahov Monastery (Strahovský klášter), a Premonstratensian monastery that was originally founded by King Vadislav II in the 1140s and has survived numerous wars, dictatorial regimes, and fires. The monastery, which has been rebuilt and expanded over the centuries, is still in use today and is home to around 80 members as well as the Strahov Gallery (a must for art lovers), the Basilica of Assumption of Our Lady (the final resting place of St Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensian order), a functional brewery, and a library that houses some 200,000 volumes and rare manuscripts.
Sadly, I chose a rather unfortunate day (Easter Sunday) to visit the monastery so I was only able to take some photos from the outside. My poor timing meant I didn’t get the chance to explore the monastery’s Philosophical Hall (with its beautiful ceiling fresco and floor-to-ceiling walnut bookshelves) or check out the archaeological and natural science collections on display in the “Cabinet of Curiosities”. At least not without resorting to breaking into this particular “fortress”…
All of the photos above were taken by Kelly M during a trip to Prague in April 2015
Budding astronomers might want to make a pitstop at Štefánik’s Observatory (Štefánikova hvězdárna), which was opened in 1928 and is named after the Slovak soldier, politician, and astronomer Milan Rastislav Štefánik. The observatory now houses a permanent exhibition on astronomy and specializes in the popularization of astronomy and related natural sciences.
Admittedly, there aren’t many other tourist attractions in Strahov and most visitors will naturally gravitate back down towards the Castle District or climb the nearby Petrin Observation Tower (Petřínská rozhledna) on Petrin Hill, both of which offer beautiful panoramic views of the city and river. It’s a shame Lara was too busy breaking into warehouses and pursuing the Cabal to do some actual sightseeing. She’d soon have realized that Prague was not just “another cold, dark city”.
Sources & Further Reading:
- Petrin Hill & Observation Tower (Prague Experience)
- Štefánik Observatory - Information in English (Štefánik Observatory)
- Štefánik’s Observatory (Wikipedia)
- Strahov (District of Prague) (Wikipedia)
- Strahov Library (360cities.net)
- Strahov Monastery (Prague.net)
- Strahov Monastery (Prague Experience)
- Strahov Monastery (Prague Wiki)
- Strahov Monastery - Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov (Strahov Monastery)
- Strahov Monastery, Prague (Czech Tourism)