The National Library of Naples (National Library “Vittorio Emanuele III”) is an enchanting place that smells of history, wealth and culture, where rare manuscripts, books of various geographic and temporal origins, periodicals and valuable documents are masters of a marvellous scenery.
History of the National Library of Naples
The National Library of Naples was founded in the last decades of the eighteenth century, when Ferdinand IV of Bourbon disposed to place in the Palazzo degli Studi (now the home of the Archaeological Museum) the library collections kept in the Royal Palace and in the Palace of Capodimonte. Between these, the most important is the Farnese collection, which Charles of Bourbon had carried to the capital in 1734.
The Library assumed the name of Real Biblioteca Borbonica in 1816 after the king had opened it to the public in 1804. The original nucleus had several prestigious funds coming from the suppression of religious orders and the acquisition of private libraries. In the French decade, will be added texts coming from monastic suppression.
In 1860 the library was declared the National Library of Naples. After the unification of Italy it was again enriched by extraordinary acquisitions: the funds from the second suppression of religious orders, important donations and bequests such as the Ranieri legate and the theatrical library of Count Lucchesi Palli, the corpus of autographs by Giacomo Leopardi and Herculaneum papyrus.
In the 1920s, the library was transferred to a wing of the Royal Palace which will host the collections of the historical libraries of the city: Brancacciana, Provincial, San Giacomo, and the Library of the San Martino Museum.
After the closure of 1942, due to the transfer of the rich bibliographic heritage to more secure hinterland countries, the library reopened to the public in 1945.
The vast patrimony of the National Library of Naples is based on 1,799,934 print volumes,8926 journals; 19,758 manuscripts in volume and 153,606 documents belonging to cartels and private archives; 4,563 incunabula and about 50,000 books from the sixteenth-century; 6,000 historical maps and 21,600 photographs in historical photographic funds; 1,838 papersand 4,665 drawings of papyrus.
Seat of the National Library of Naples
The Library was inaugurated in May 1927, inside the magnificent Royal Palace of Naples. It develops along the first three floors of the eastern wing of the building – work by Domenico Fontana in the 17th century and continued by Vanvitelli – in which formerly were the Apartments of the Royal Principle, then Banquet Hall after 1837, when, due to of a fire, a complete restructuring of the building was carried out by the architect Gaetano Genovese.
You can access to the National Library of Naples takes going down the nineteenth-century garden – formerly the Maneggio – made by the botanist Denhardt. The entrance, adorned with a false rustication of stucco of stucco from neoclassical style, is on the right. You will reach the majestic eighteenth-century marble staircase, decorated by a balustrade with motifs of crossed spears with a central rosette, by old oil lamps on shelves and, on the first wing of stairs, and by two statues of Dancers in a delicate, eclectic style by Gennaro de Crescenzo.
Inside, the furnishing shows the illustrative developments of Neapolitan neoclassicism, walnut shelves with golden frames, pompeian style decorations with floral motifs or mythological figures, painted glasses with female figures and angels. Each hall celebrates a true triumph of art and wealth.
How to get to the National Library of Naples
By bus: From the Central Station (Piazza Garibaldi): bus R2 stop San Carlo – Trieste and Trento.
By car: Exit the highway Napoli centro – via Marittima; continue on via Nuova Marina; turn for the compulsory way towards Via De Gasperi; via De Pretis; Piazza Municipio; via V. Emanuele, via San Carlo; Piazza Trieste and Trento.
Opening hours and timetables of the National Library
The library is open to the public all the year round excluding Sundays and holidays.
Admission in the National Library of Naples
In order to be admitted to the BNN users have to:
- be over 16 (for exceptions see Regulation );
- produce evidence of identification ;
- leave bags, books and publications in any form at the cloakroom take and keep the “carta d’entrata” (entrance card);
The entrance is free.