Our love of libraries?
I hope it’s your local.
And that is as it should be.
But, when it comes to sheer beauty, there are two that stand out for me.
The tiny Biblioteca Joanina at Coimbra, in Portugal, is one. Construction began on this little jewel in 1717.
It’s 250,000 books date from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and deal mainly with civil and canon law, theology and philosophy.
Brazil’s most beautiful library is in Rio de Janeiro. And, although it’s not as venerable, and the exterior doesn't promise much, the interior is a knockout..
The seeds of its collection, like Coimbra’s, go back to the Iberian Peninsula.
On the first of November, 1755, a great earthquake, followed by a fire, shattered Portugal’s capital at Lisbon – and destroyed the royal library, the largest in the country at that time.
After the cleanup, the king asked this man, Diogo Barbosa Machado, the learned abbot of monastery of Saint Adrian of Sever to assemble a new one.
A mark of his success was that, in 1808, when the Portuguese Court fled to Rio de Janeiro to escape the invading armies of Napoleon, they were able to bring with them a collection that extended to some sixty thousand books and manuscripts. It was incorporated as the Royal Library of Rio de Janeiro and opened to the public in 1814.
When the French threat passed, and Dom João VI embarked, once again, for Portugal, he took the manuscripts with him.
But he left most of the books.
Rio’s National Library is, today, the largest library in Latin America.
And either the seventh or the tenth in the world, depending upon which index you consult.
If you happen to be in Rio, a visit is well-worth it for the physical beauty alone.
The library’s collection runs to more than nine million volumes.
Leighton - Monday
Leighton - Monday