The large complex of Klementinum was founded by the Jesuits after their arrival in Bohemia in 1556. Initially, members of the order lived in a former Dominican monastery, but in 1653 began expanding their premises. The reconstruction lasted over 170 years, so there is a variety of architectural styles in Klementinum. With more than 2 hectares it is also one of the largest building complexes in Europe. Prominent architects were involved in the design of the building, for example Carlo Lurago, Franz Maximilian Kanka or Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.
Jesuits ran a school in the Klementinum from its foundation, in 1622 it was promoted to a university. In addition to classrooms and bedrooms for the community, the Jesuits also built a library, a print room, a pharmacy, theater and of course church buildings. Klementinum was merged with the Charles University in 1654, along with its library collection. The newly established Charles-Ferdinand University in Klementinum housed philosophical and theological faculties. The Jesuits had to leave Klementinum after the order was disestablished in 1773, but the university remained. After the division of the university into Czech and German parts in 1882 only the Czech part stayed. In 1930, the philosophical faculty moved into a new building and Klementinum became the seat of the National Library.