Though officially inaugurated in the 15th century, The Vatican Library vastly pre-dates this. Certain sources even suggest the library has existed since the 4th century. The Vatican Library houses not only the theological documents of the papacy, but other fascinating artifacts such as Henry VIII’s love letters, ancient Chinese manuscripts, and one of only 50 bibles made especially for the first ever Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. With almost 2 million books inside its stores, the wonders of The Vatican Library know no bounds.
The Pontifical Lateran University, also known as ‘The Pope’s University’, is a true Roman institution and the university of the Vatican City. In 1854, Pope Pius IX amalgamated various of the best and most important libraries around Rome to form the Pontifical Lateran University Library, the university’s library, one of the most beautiful in the world. This seven-floor library boasts of shelves upon shelves of fascinating documents, influential journals, and prized books. In 2009 the library won the highly coveted Italian Intervention for New Construction award which recognizes places of architectural significance that have made strides forward to innovate and evolve.
Lying just a few streets from the stunning Piazza Navona, the Angelica Library is yet another showcase of the sublime beauty that has earned Rome its fame. Opened in 1609 by a bishop, the library houses many of the most significant documents pertaining to the Reformation and Counter Reformation — making the Angelica Library a must-visit for history buffs. The library is also famous for its vast collection of different bibles and priceless, rare editions of works by the world-famous Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. The archive of 15th to 18th century Italian theatre and literature masterpieces here is one of the best in existence.
The Vallicelliana Library is a breathtaking example of Baroque architecture. Dating back to 1565, the floor to ceiling shelves that tower above visitors contain hundreds of important documents that act as valuable sources for some of the most influential events in medieval history, as well as the Reformation. A superb collection of photographs and a specialist section solely dedicated to music have for years sparked the interest of visitors seeking to explore the best of Italy’s culture and past. The library’s outstanding beauty ensured its place on our list of the most beautiful libraries in this fantastic city.
Another wonder of the Baroque period, this snapshot of the luxury and lavish expenditure of Italy’s past has acted as the storehouse of the Roman National Academy of Science‘s book collection for years. Originally a palace, this building still retains all the grandeur of its glorious past in the sweeping arches, soaring columns, and gleaming marble. The Academy is one of Italy’s most prestigious, counting Galileo himself among its former members. The idyllic location of this library, backing onto Rome’s fabulous Botanical Gardens, simply adds to its awe-inspiring atmosphere. The store includes notable works on architecture, astronomy, oriental philosophy, mathematics, and modern and ancient literature to name but a few.