State Hall of the Austrian National Library

State Hall in the heart of the Austrian National Library is the most impressive place I have ever been in my life. We could have finished visiting the place in 20 minutes but it was so amazing; we stayed there for about an hour and a half. That’s what libraries do to me.

State Hall, also known as Prunksaal has its entrance right next door to Hofburg, the Imperial Palace. Even though your Hofburg combination ticket will not cover The State Hall and you will have to pay something like EUR 15, it is well worth it. Once you’re in, you can stay as long as you like and are allowed to take photos, too. Without using flash, of course.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Construction of this Baroque style library was ordered by Emperor Charles VI—hence the large statue in the middle of The Ceremonial Room—as a private wing of the Hofburg Imperial Residence. The State Hall was built from 1723 till 1726 according to the plans of the famous court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and carried out by his son Joseph Emanuel.

State Hall

‘A library is a hospital for the mind.’

These books were singled out. You just wonder why. Have they been naughty?

The Ceiling of State Hall, Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The dome of State Hall is adorned with beautiful, celestial frescoes as seen in the photos below and above. It is the work of court painter: Daniel Gran. The frescoes were completed in 1730.

The Globes of State Hall
Among the exhibits are four exquisite Venetian baroque globes: two for the earth (terrestrial) and another two for the sky (celestial), each with a diameter of more than one meter. These globes are the work of Vincenzo Coronelli and located in the central oval of the State Hall.

Vincenzo Coronelli (1650 – 1718) completed and donated these globes to Emperor Leopold I in 1693. He initially had them placed in his summer residence. Emperor’s summer residence is today’s private high school and diplomatic academy Theresianum. However, in the mid-18th century, all four globes were moved to the central oval of the State Hall.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Himmelglobus (above)
Due to the special representation of the heavens chosen by Coronelli for this celestial globe, the right and left sides of the constellations are not reversed, appearing against their unusual bluish green background in the same way we see them on the firmament at night.

State Hall Austrian National Library

Erdglobus (above)
Notable in this topographically very precise terrestrial globe with its numerous records on voyages of discovery are the very accurate and artistic representations of human beings, animals, plants and even ships.

The Statues of State Hall of Austrian National Library

State Hall Austrian National Library

The statue of Emperor Charles VI (above) is located in the middle of the State Hall is created by the sculptors Peter Strudel and Paul Strudel. Sweet!

Does that bottom shelf look familiar to you?

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La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco

I had the opportunity to visit La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco –Spanish for library of Saint Francis Monastery—in Lima, Peru in 2007. It was my very first ancient library experience with actual books in it. I say that because when it comes to ancient libraries, I lived only 25 minutes away from Celcus Library in Ephesus, Turkey and visited the whole city several times. Library of Celcus is one ancient library –even older than the one in Lima—but it doesn’t have any books.


The Roman Library of Celcus in Ephesus, Turkey (above)

La Biblioteca del Convent de San Francisco is only one block away from the Plaza de Armas (photo below) which is located in the old part of Lima. The whole area was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1991. Although we stayed in Miraflores –the touristic part of town—we were taken there by our guide. That’s when I discovered this beautiful library and the moment I saw the books, my face lit up (so I’m told) and perhaps for a moment I forgot to breathe.


Museo San Francisco (below). Aside from the library it also contains a church, monastery and catacombs.


The Collection of La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco

The collection of La Biblioteca del Convento de San Francisco is world-renowned with its 25,000 antique texts in different languages like Latin, Spanish, French, Portugese, Italian and some in ancient languages, on the subjects of philosophy, theology, history, literature, music, geography, canon law, ecclesiastical law, bibles, etc.

libraryOne of the most notable works here for me is some volumes of the first dictionary published by the Academy of the Spanish language. Not that I have actually seen it. I mean, you’re not even allowed to take photos once you’re inside or pass the cordoned area where the books are.


For more information and photos about Peru or other places I have been to, visit our photo blog.