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VISIT Universidade de Coimbra


The imperial building of three floors
stores about 57,000 volumes

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The Book House, was built between 1717 and 1728,
got its first books after 1750

Constructed to exalt the monarch and the wealth of the empire, including the wealth of Brazil, this library is, beyond a splendid combination of exotic materials, a safe book.

Built as a parallelepiped in height (to overcome the elevation difference), addorsed at the top of the Chapel, the main floor opens into a yard and houses the noble rooms, which are accessed by a monumental gateway with a triumphal arch and Ionian columns on the sides, as well as an opulent royal shield.

Inside, the visitor can see three large annexes in a row, and their intercommunication wisely reproduces the general scheme, driving the look to the monarch’s portrait, D. João V, created by the Savoyard painter Domênico Duprà.

The internal area is totally covered by bookcases which are meticulously decorated with Chinese motifs over a background alternating in shades of green, red and black, made by Manuel da Silva over 40 months.

This produces an effect of both harmony and everlasting variety, fomented by powerful decorative impact of the pavements and the ceilings, opulent allegories to the triumph of the University, which were imagined by António Simões Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes.

Provided with copies of the rarest bibliographic collections, the Baroque Library presents a collection of collections these collections date from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries – and in its majority represent the best available in the cultured Europe of that time.

The architectural morphology of the library ensures a perfectly stable environment throughout the year and ensures the perfect conservation of the collection. To this end, the walls contribute about two feet thick.

The door of this “safe” is made of teakwood, which allows a constant temperature of 18º to 20º C. To help maintain such stable environment, the relative humidity levels are 60% due to the fact that the entire library's interior is covered in wood

As is well known, one of the biggest "enemies" of the books is, apart the humidity and temperature differences, the insects that feed on paper.

This building does not have any insects because the bookcases are made of oakwood which, apart from being extremely dense (making it difficult for the bugs to penetrate), has a scent that repels them.

The books have yet another ally in this daily fight for conservation: the interior of this book temple houses a colony of bats which spend the night eating any insect that appears, thus freeing the books from their attack.

Naturally the presence of these mammals requires an additional care to prevent damage caused by their faeces in the precious wood of the magnificent tables: every day when the library closes, the assistant covers the tables with leather towels.

The bibliographic collections can be examined upon justified request, following which the book is taken to the Biblioteca Geral (General Library) by an assistant, where it can be examined by the researcher, in the General Library.


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A Universidade de Coimbra: Uma visita a partir Páteo.

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