Saturday, 5 September 2009

What to see: The State Hall of the Austrian National Library, Vienna

The State Hall of the Austrian National Library is rightly considered one of the world’s most beautiful libraries and also one of the best Baroque interiors in Europe. It was built for Emperor Karl VI after plans drawn up by his court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1665-1723). It was however Fischer von Erlach’s son Joseph Emanuel (1693-1742) who saw the plans through in the years 1723-1726.
The State Hall measures 77.7 by 14.2 metres and is 19.6 metres high, except for the cupola, which reaches nearly 30 metres to the sky. The allegorical ceiling frescoes were done by Daniel Gran and completed in 1730. The motif on the central cupola shows the apotheosis of Karl VI and beneath it is a statue of the Emperor as “Hercules Musarum” by the brothers Peter and Paul Strudel.
The nutwood bookcases hold some 200,000 books printed between 1501 and 1850. The 15,000 books placed in the library’s oval centre belonged to Prince Eugen of Savoy. Altogether 7.8 million books and other items are to be found in the collections of the Austrian National Library. The Austrian National Library’s website:

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