Lara’s Travels: Strahov District, Prague

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 creative teams employed a heavy dose of artistic license in their work.

During a family trip to Prague, 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. We soon discovered that 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. In the game, the journalist Luddick describes 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 just a few minutes walk from the Prague Castle complex in the city’s “Castle District”, Hradčany.

Pushing crates in Strahov Fortress
Pushing crates in Strahov Fortress. Image credit: Katie’s Tomb Raider Screenshots.

Strahov’s key attraction is the Strahov Monastery (Strahovský klášter), a Premonstratensian monastery that was originally founded by King Vadislav II in the 1140s. This centuries-old building has survived numerous wars, dictatorial regimes, and fires. The monastery has been rebuilt and expanded over the centuries and is still in use today. It is home to around 80 members,  the Strahov Gallery (a must for art lovers), the Basilica of Assumption of Our Lady, 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 photos from the outside. My poor timing meant that 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 pit-stop at Štefánik’s Observatory (Štefánikova hvězdárna). The observatory was opened in 1928 and is named after the Slovak soldier, politician, and astronomer Milan Rastislav Štefánik. It now houses a permanent exhibition on astronomy and specialises in the popularisation 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 these 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 would have quickly realised that Prague was not just “another cold, dark city”.

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About Kelly M

Kelly McGuire is a writer, translator, and gamer who is passionate about archaeology, language learning, travel, and wildlife conservation. She tweets under the username @TRHorizons and is the admin and chief content creator for Tomb Raider Horizons.

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