Abbey of Saint Gall: Discover the appearance of Europe’s most beautiful library

Known as Switzerland’s most splendid late Baroque building, Saint Gall Abbey Library is renowned as one of the oldest libraries in the world, which will definitely arouse your interest. Whenever stepping into this stunning library, you stand a higher chance of getting exposure to a treasure trove of priceless ancient books, which is challenging to seek anywhere.

Photo: Bodensee

With the unmatched beauty contributed by magnificently decorated walls, floors, and ceilings, the Abbey of Saint Gall has become an outstanding symbol of Switzerland, attracting a huge influx of tourists on a yearly basis.

A long-standing history of Saint Gall

Founded in 612 by Saint Otmar on the hermitage of Saint Gallus, a disciple and companion of Saint Columbanus, it is the third oldest library in the world after the Capitolare di Verona Library and the library of Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai.

If you are passionate about cultural history, Saint Gall Abbey is an optimal choice for your travel excursions, where unique early medieval written works and beautifully handwritten books with amazing lettering are stored carefully. Besides, it’s also a place where the monks of the Benedictin Monastery worked on luminous manuscripts.

As of 2005, the library is home to:

  • More than 160,000 books of all kinds
  • 2,100 handwritten books
  • About 1,000 handwritten books have been preserved since the Middle Ages
  • 400 books are more than 1,000 years old
  • A copy of the Priscian grammar containing the poem Is acher in gaíth in-nocht… written in Old Irish
  • Late 9th century drawing of Saint Paul teaching a crowd of Jews
  • Part of a copy of a Pauline novel

The library also preserves a unique 9th-century document, known as the Plan of St. Gall. This is the only major architectural drawing to survive the period of 700 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Although the plan was not implemented, it is still an important historical-architectural document with high research value.

One of the most important architectural works

The Abbey of Saint Gall has been likened to one of the most important architectural works of the late European Baroque period. History has proven that this spiritual land has been protected by God because, despite many negative influences, it still exists strongly. Some of these hardships that Abbey of Saint Gall faced were the Hungarian invasion in 926, the fire in 937 that caused serious damage to the monastery, and two city fires in 1314 and 1418.

This church was built in the Renaissance architectural style, featuring an arch with a height of up to 68 meters. The library interior is exquisitely designed in Rococo style by architect Peter Thumb. Consisting of two floors with a balcony running around the upper floor, the Abbey of Saint Gall is brightened by the natural light of 34 windows; however, you are allowed to admire only one room on the lower floor; the upper one is not open to visitors.

Photo: Kayak

Time to immerse yourself in a reservoir of knowledge

It is not time-consuming to look around the entire library. As a travel lover, it just takes you about 10 minutes to walk around and discover the ancient beauty of this wonderful landscape. For those who are interested in history, you might long to stay here as long as possible due to the informative knowledge you will gain from each of these wonderful books. Nothing could be more amazing than taking the time to reflect on the library’s contribution to history as a nerd.

It is not only a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 but also the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage in 2017 thanks to its tremendous contributions.

Photo: The City Lane

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