St. Gallen Abbey Library

St Gallen Abbey Library

The Abbey Library in St. Gallen features Switzerland’s most beautiful non-ecclesiastical Baroque hall, designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style. The library contains 170,000 books and other media, 50,000 of which are housed in the Baroque hall itself, where the 2,700 year old Egyptian mummy Shepenese is also to be found. Throw on the oversized slippers over your shoes so as not to ruin the original wood floor and admire the painted and gilded ceiling surrounded by the tranquility of old and rare books. Not only is the number of manuscripts truly impressive, but the collection is unusually uniform and complete. From these manuscripts, modern scholars can reconstruct the spiritual and cultural life of the abbey from the Early Middle Ages until 1805. Further insights into life at the abbey can be obtained from the remarkably complete collection of documents and deeds stored in the Abbey archives. The entire Abbey, including the library, was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1983. Other notable manuscripts include Irish works of the 7th and 8th centuries, the illuminated manuscripts of the St Gall School of the 9th and 11th centuries, documents concerning the history of the origins of Alemannic Switzerland as well as the layout of the convent during the Carolingian era. Since 1997, the Abbey Library has been electronically recording their books so you can view them online.

Amy Jurries

Amy is a freelance travel writer and editor.

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