Abbey Library of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
An ancient research center, the oldest library in Switzerland, one of the oldest continuously operating libraries in the world, one of the richest medieval libraries, a place where lived and worked famous medieval scholars ... This list, telling the rich history of the Abbey Library of St. Gall (Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen), could be continued as well.
The history of the library began in the 7th century, when an Irish monk named Gallus founded his hut on the site of the present monastery of St. Gall in 613. After his death on the site of his hut the foundation of the Abbey of St. Gall was laid and later - the library was founded. Already in the 8th century, there was a famous research center, where numerous chirographers were creating unique manuscripts that up to this day impress the visitors of the library with their beauty.
Interestingly, in 937, almost the whole monastery was burned in a fire, but the books in a miraculous way remained intact. In the 17th century a printing shop was established at St. Gall Abbey premises, which allowed maintaining its reputation of a respective scientific center.
Contemporary buildings of the abbey, including the Cathedral and the Library, were built from 1755 to 1768. The buildings’ architect was Peter Thumb. From outside the library is enough modest, but after passing the entrance, visitors feel like being inside the library of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". On the main entrance to the library the inscription in Greek says "pharmacy of the soul." In the middle ages, a lack of knowledge or intelligence was considered as a disease that could be cured only with books. Today, however, this place treats the human soul not only as a knowledge center, but more with its beauty. The interior of the Cathedral is also one of the most important baroque monuments in Switzerland.
The main hall of the library is decorated in rococo style. The wooden floors of the hall are so beautiful, that in order to walk on them you need to put on special shoes. On the ceiling there are painstakingly beautiful paintings in the Baroque style, which not only making the hall more beautiful, but also visually enlarge it. From the floor to the ceiling the walls of the hall are covered with wooden bookcases, every detail of them is strikingly beautiful. It is not surprising, that the Library of St. Gall became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Today, the library houses more than 160,000 books, 2,100 of which are ancient handwritten manuscripts. It houses also the oldest surviving architectural plan - "Plan of St. Gall," which, however, was never realized and remained only on the paper.
By Anna Pambukhchyan, www.building.am