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The "Spectacular" Library of the University of Coimbra

November 20, 2013

The Library of the University of Coimbra has received a lot of distinctions and deserves a visit. Explore one of the most beautiful Libraries of the world!

Do you know the Library of the University of Coimbra? If you don’t, you can not miss the opportunity to meet one of the world's loveliest libraries. After being elected the most beautiful academic library by the publisher Flavorwire, it’s the turn of the British newspaper "The Telegraph" to highlight one of the most spectacular libraries in the world.

Find out more details of this impressive library, located in the oldest academic Institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.

An incredible library in Portugal

Visit the "Joanina" Library of Coimbra, a beautiful Portuguese Library

In Portugal, the places where we can find books are much more than a simple building. On this blog, we have talked about the wonderful Lello Bookshop, acclaimed all over the world. Now, it’s time to focus a library that is simply one of the most beautiful libraries of the world.

Among thousands of libraries all over the world, the British newspaper "The Telegraph" highlights two Portuguese libraries in a list of the world's most spectacular libraries: the Library of Mafra and University Library of Coimbra. Indeed, among eight dozen libraries through more than 20 countries, published in the book "The Library: A World History " by James Campbell, the British newspaper selects 16 libraries and places the Baroque Library of University of Coimbra in the first position.

However, this distinction is not unique: in 2011, the publisher Flavorwire chose it as the most beautiful university library in the world!

This library, formerly known as House Bookstore, owes its name to Magnanimous King D. John V. The British newspaper highlights the importance of this king in the magnificence of the building , "Portugal 's John the Magnanimous astonhished the rector of the University of Coimbra by telling him that his request for help towards library facilities was too modest, the lavish result was financed with gold reserves that had been recently discovered in Brazil”. (as you can see, it was not by chance that people gave him the nickname “Magnanimous”).

This library is located in the historically academic city of Coimbra, at the International School of the University of Coimbra (Palácio da Univerdades). Its construction started in 1717, and was completed in 1728.

The Library of the University of Coimbra has markedly a Rococo style, being one of the most original baroque libraries in Europe. Over the entrance door, the library exhibits the national coat of arms. Inside it, there are three great rooms divided by decorated arches entirely executed by Portuguese artists. The central nave of the library makes its structure resembles a chapel, where the portrait of King John V, takes the place of the altar.

However, Campbell also highlights another interesting detail of this library: its foolproof methods for the preservation of its books, "still contain tiny colonies of bats which roots behind shelves - a small price to pay for the control of book predators”. But do not think that bats make this library unhygienic! Every day before closing the library, an employee covers the tables with leather linens and, before the opening, he removes them and clean the floor.

This Baroque Library contains over 200 thousand volumes, most of which are in the main floor and, therefore, they can be consulted. In spite of being a research place, this library has also the distinction of being the place to many concerts, exhibitions or other cultural manifestation.

How can you visit the Library of the University of Coimbra?

The University of Coimbra, the oldest academic Institution in the Portuguese-speaking world, was listed as a World Heritage Site, in 2013. But all of this historic city deserves a visit. It's why we can't lose the opportunity to lead you to one of the most interesting cities of Portugal. Join our tours and explore the city of Coimbra and its Library of the University of Coimbra: