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State Hall of the National Bibliothek of Austria

Prunksaal or State Hall of the Austrian National Library
In the 18th century, Emperor Charles VI commissioned the construction of the court library in the Hofburg. It was built between 1723-1726 from the design of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the court architect. This Baroque library has 200,000 volumes which date from 1501-1850. The 15,000 volume collection of Prince Eugene of Savoy is part of this collection. It includes valuable manuscripts and books from France and Italy. They are bound in red, blue and yellow Moroccan leather and can be found in the central oval of the library. Together with Google, this historic and copyright-free collection was digitized by the Austrian National Library and is available at

The statue in the center of the oval is of Charles VI portrayed as Hercules Musarum. It was “allegedly” sculpted by Antonio Corradini in 1735. Behind him are statues of Spanish and Austrian Habsburg rulers sculpted by the Strudel brothers, Peter, Paul and Dominik. These are (l to r) - Archduke Charles II (1590), Don Juan of Austria (1578), King Carlos III of Spain (1740), and Duke Rodolphe IV, the Founder (1365).

The walnut bookcases are decorated with intricate gilding.

Staircase to second floor

There are rooms hidden behind the bookcases.

There are more books in these secret rooms.

Four Venetian globes by Vincenzo Coronelli and measuring one meter in diameter are in the center of the hall under the cupola. 

The fresco on the cupola illustrates the apotheosis (divinisation) of Emperor Charles VI and the allegorical story behind the construction of the library. It was completed 1730 by Daniel Gran.

Marble Corinthian columns lead the eye to the richly decorated ceiling.

From the Habsburg collection, this Evangeliary of Johann von Troppau on the life of Luke, the Evangelist, is from 1368.

Bible Moralisee
This early 13th century book is from the French court. The pictorial bible illustration shows God as the creator measuring the world with a compass. It is one of the most frequently reproduced illustrations from the manuscript.

This manuscript from the 12th century portrays John the Evangelist with his scribe, Prochorus, to whom he is dictating the Gospel. This is in contrast to the other three evangelists who are portrayed writing the Gospel themselves.

The State Hall is truly an “antique book paradise” as its website aptly describes its collection. 

Where to go: 
Josefsplatz 1, Vienna for ticket information. Don’t forgot to ask for a student or senior citizen discount.
Subway U1 (Stephansplatz) or U3 to Herrengasse then walk to Josefsplatz or tram 1, 2, 71, or D to Burgring stop then walk through Hofburg.


Images by TravelswithCharie

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