Joanina Library, Coimbra, Portugal
The Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina) belongs to one of the oldest universities in the world – the Coimbra University, could justly be called one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Coimbra University was founded in the 13th century, and in the middle of 16th century it was transferred from Lisbon to Coimbra. Today this ancient university is so huge that the number of its students is more than 20,000. Each of the buildings of the University is strikingly beautiful. Some parts of the university are even located in an old royal palace, however, without any doubt, the Joanine library building is the pearl of Coimbra complex.
The library building was constructed in 1717 - 1728, thanks to the efforts of the King of Portugal João V. The Library, which was supposed to host ancient book collection of Coimbra University (before that the collection was being transported from one building to the other), was named in honor of João V. Ironically, the name of the building’s main architect also was João - João Carvalho Ferreira.
The building is built in Baroque style. It is symmetrical and has a form of a parallelepiped. The building has massive arcade windows. The main entrance is decorated with four tall columns - two on each side of the high doors. The doors are made of teak wood, in order to save required temperature for the conservation of books inside the library. After entering through these massive wooden doors one can enjoy the splendor look of library’s interior. The inner luxury of Joanine Library is not less impressive than the pageantry of the richest European Royal palaces.
The building has three large halls - red, blue and olive. The halls are separated by decorative arches. The inner walls of the library are completely covered by beautiful wooden shelves that store more than 250,000 books, created before the beginning of the 19-th century. The shelves and the furniture are made of rare wood types with gilded decorations. The ceiling is covered with beautiful paintings, created by Antonio Simões Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes. In the internal decorations of the building one can also trace Chinese motifs. Chinese motives, decorating the bookshelves, were created by artist Manuel de Silva, who worked on them for about three years.
The Joanina Library is one of the most important historical monuments of Portugal - a vivid example of Baroque architecture and a matter of national pride.
By Anna Pambukhchyan, www.building.am