Spain´s National Library

The Biblioteca Nacional de España is a treasure trove of culture. The façade alone is a lesson in the history of Spanish letters. Founded by Felipe V in 1712, it is one of the largest libraries in the world. In a major move toward literary preservation, he required one copy of every book printed in Spain be sent to the library. His system of patenting was a precursor to the current system of cataloging. Today, the library is in fact the State Repository of Spain’s Cultural Memory (Centro Estatal Depositario de la Memoria Cultural Española), which means that any media that is produced in Spain must be available or accessible at the facility. In book form alone, there are over 15 million volumes.

At the heart of the complex is a vast, high-ceiling reading room, a profoundly quiet atmosphere of study that can nonetheless hold over 300 readers.  So many books have been stored here that another robotized Amazon-like facility was constructed in Alcalá de Henares, just outside of Madrid.

Use of the library is somewhat exclusive.  Only researchers and academics with specific permission may use the library.  Tour are held periodically. For more information, click here.

Queen Cristina wanted the library´s visitors to be greeted by a saint and a king who were instrumental in the promotion of letters in Spain. Here Alfonso the Wise and behind him the author of Don Quixote.


One of my favorite façades in Spain. At the top of the frontón, reclining and posing along the frieze are beautiful, carved allegories representing the most important endeavors of man and woman. Pictured here, from left, are: The wing of Peace, Philosophy, Jurisprudence, Poetry, Astronomy and Ethnology.


The façade of the Biblioteca Nacional de España with its medallions, statues, allegories, columns and arches.


Inside, there are many old books and original manuscripts. Many of the very old books and documents are stored away from the public, elements and light.


An original manuscript of José Zorilla, an icon of Spanish playwrights and a father of Romanticism.


An old piece of papyrus.


A binding kit for books.


On the left side of the frontón, at the feet of the winged Peace, some of the allegories include (from left): Music, Poetry, Eloquence and the crouched War with his broken sword.



2 thoughts on “Spain´s National Library

  1. So interesting, and very beautiful photos! Our libraries are so important, all over the world, and I don’t like the modernization that is going on in my country. It is important that peoples roots are well kept, and remembered.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s