Rome is a reader’s paradise. It is a treasure trove of amazing bookshops and breathtakingly beautiful libraries. Rome is certainly famous for Vatican City, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and countless architectural and artistic feats, yet it’s culture is not limited to these.
For the best Vatican tours, spend some time in the grand public libraries to enrich your Roman holiday. Here is a handbook of the best libraries in the Eternal City for the reader in you.
The Vatican Library
The Vatican Library is easily the most awe-inspiring of Rome’s libraries and it is not hard to reason why. It dates back to the 15th century and its collection of books, manuscripts, copies of the Bible, love letters from Henry VIII and many more treasures makes its collection an enviable one.
It stocks an estimated 2 million books, some dating back to the 4th century. So, gain access to this house of books and experience its magnificence.
Pontifical Lateran University Library
The Pontifical Lateran University, alternately called ‘The Pope’s University’, stands as a majestic centre of learning in Vatican City. Pope Pius IX amassed books and documents from libraries across the world to set up in 1854 what is known today as the Pontifical Lateran University Library.
It is one of the most exquisite libraries in the world. In 2009, the University library won the Italian Intervention for New Construction award for its innovative architectural style.
For the history buffs, the Angelica Library is the place for you. Located just a few streets from the dazzling Piazza Navona, the library stocks a cache of historically significant documents.
Started in 1609 by a bishop, the library has scripts on the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation and a vast collection of rare editions of works by greats like Dante and Petrarch. It also has an archive of literature relating to 15th to 18th century Italian theatre, one of the best of its genre.
If you have an eye for beauty and the sublime, then the Vallicelliana Library is for you. Its allure lies in its ethereal Baroque architecture. Historically significant, the library, which dates back to 1565, has towering shelves of books which provide valuable insights into medieval history including the Reformation period. It also houses an exemplary collection of literature and photographic material on music, which attracts worldwide visitors seeking to delve in Italy’s musical culture.
The Library of the National Academy of Science
Originally a palatial house, this library is another architectural Baroque wonder. The Academy is one of Italy’s most reputed and prestigious institutes and its library, known as the Lincean Academy, dates back to 1603. It used to host intellectuals from diverse disciplines in its heyday.
The library safeguards notable works on a wide range of subjects including astronomy, mathematics and oriental philosophy. It counts among its notable members none other than Galileo himself. Nowadays the library hosts conferences on a variety of disciplines ranging from science to mathematics to fiscal discourses.
So, while touring the Eternal City, do not forget to venture into one or more of these libraries to partake in Italy’s rich bibliographical cultural legacy. It will make for the best family tours in Rome.