Some call them relics these days. For me, a real book is still one of the most sensual things that one could possibly own. Even more so if it’s one of those old leather-bound treasures. The smell of leather and old paper, the crispy sound when you turn the pages, those are sensations that I would never trade for any Kindle thingy or online libraries.
So it won’t surprise you that when I heard of the State Hall of the Austrian Library, which is home to a collection of antique books, I knew I had to include it in my must-see list during my visit to Vienna.
The State Hall is located in the Hofburg complex, which was the residence of the Austrian Emperor. It is accessible through the Josefs square (Josefsplatz).
The Baroque State Hall is said to be one of the world’s most beautiful historic libraries.
The Austrian Emperor Charles VI ordered the construction of a new building for his Court Library. The State Hall was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and built between 1723 and 1726.
The marble statues are by the brothers Peter and Paul Strudel (no joke intended 🙂 ).
These are typical Baroque frescoes. The painter used the central perspective technique to create an illusionistic effect. Doesn’t it really look like a 3D print?
The fresco in the cupola, which is 30 metres high, depicts the apotheosis of Charles VI.
But the most beautiful things in the State Hall are certainly the books (and the cupboards).
The State Hall is home to 200.000 books from 1501 – 1850.