Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library), Coimbra

Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library), Coimbra (must see)

The Biblioteca Joanina is named for King John V, The king who loved books. He also loved libraries and he built them. Construction started in 1717 at the insistence of King John and the building was finished in 1728. The library collection was moved constantly before this, the collection growing and no place fit to hold it.

The reknowned architect Gaspar Ferreira is responsible for the design. The library consists of three sizable rooms lined with bookstands. Narrow corridors in the rooms carry the coats of arms of the various faculties of the University. Renovated several times, it is a Baroque creation of teams of artists working together.

The library collection has grown so much books published in the 20th century onwards are held in the Faculty of Letters building. The building was adapted as a library by Architect Albero Jose Pessoa, assisted by Horacio de Moura and Fernando Castelo Branco. The books dating from the 12th to 19th centuries remain in the Joanina Library.

The Biblioteca Joanina is the main attraction for library-loving visitors to the old campus. The interior is lavishly Baroque in style, sumptuously adorned in red and gold embellishments of arches and carvings. Painted panels on the ceilings are by Antonio Simoes Ribeiro and Vincente Nunes. Chinese elements are painted by Manuel De Silva.

Under the main floor is the "Prison" room. In days of yore offending Scholars and students were confined here. Respect for learning and study was taken seriously.

Books have enemies: humidity and insects. The Joanina library deals with these enemies in two ways. The effects of humidity are minimized by the use of hardwoods like teak and oak. These woods are not that tasty for bugs either. For those bugs and bookworms that get past the teak and the oak there are bats. Tiny bats that feed at night.

Why you should visit
Don't worry about the bats. To spend some time in this beautiful place surrounded by the wisdom of the ages is a rare treat not available to everyone.

Tours may be crowded. Come early.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Coimbra. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library) on Map

Sight Name: Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library)
Sight Location: Coimbra, Portugal (See walking tours in Coimbra)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Coimbra, Portugal

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