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Pope Francis

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Vatican

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Library Casanatense, a cultural treasure hidden among the streets of Rome

2010-08-13

Simona Perugia
Casanatense Library

"Cardinal Girolamo Casanate wanted to establish this library, which is named after him. In 1698, when he was writing his will, he  decided to leave his family library, which consisted of around 25 thousand books, as well as 60 thousand scudi in cash, buildings and land, to the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva."

There was only one clause in Cardinal Casanate’s will which could not be broken. If Dominicans wanted to inherit all of these items, they would have to build a new library to house the 25,000 books, and not simply move the books to an already existing location.

Simona Perugia
Casanatense Library

"So in 1698 the Dominicans commissioned the architect Antonio Maria Borioni to design this room here, which has a whole array of unique features. "

Large windows, high vaulted ceilings, and white walls made to reflect sunlight, create a very open and bright atmosphere. The shelves specially designed for heavy books are in the lower areas and the lighter items are at the top. To protect books from dust, a strip of leather has been placed on them. Nothing was done here by chance.

This room alone houses around 60,000 books and some very special tools. These are two globes. One represents the known world up to 1716 and the other, constellations of stars.

Simona Perugia
Casanatense Library

"The terrestrial and celestial globes were painted entirely by hand in 1716 by famed cartographer Amancio Moronceli, who worked for Queen Christina of Sweden and for the king of France."

So the centuries have gone by with this monumental library, which since 1884, has belonged to the Italian state, and which continues to transmit culture today.

Barbara Mussetto
Casanatense Library

"Usually lectures and book presentations take place in this grand room. They usually address issues related to theology and, art history ...".

It’s an incredibly rich library, accessible to students, or just the curious passing through the bustling streets of Rome.

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