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Photographer's Note

This is the old library of University of Coimbra, a baroque building built on the early 18th century by the king João V (Joanina comes from the name of this king). It houses more than 200 thousand printed volumes, namely 60 thousand from the centuries 16th to 18th.

It lies on the courtyard of the older part of the university, which some of you already know from one of my posts.

I was a bit surprised that I got a reasonably sharp and not so badly lit photo, as I had no tripod with me. I shot it while making my best effort to stand still while leaning against a wall.

I have posted two WS's, one showing the jail mentioned below and another one showing the entrance of the library from outside.

There are a couple of anecdotes related with the library. Its actual director tells about them in a short documentary available on Youtube (in Portuguese).

One of those anecdotes is that there is a community of bats living in the halls. According to the director, bats help preserving the books by eating the insects that eat paper. Every evening, the furniture is covered with cowhides to guard it from the dung.

Another anecdote is that the construction was made on the top of an old medieval prison, that was later used as the university jail(!). That prison was preserved and it kept being used after the construction of the library (no, it isn't used anymore :-). Contrarily to what we can think, that jail wasn't exactly intended for those students who behaved badly in classes or that didn't frequent them. Instead, it was a means to avoid that students and other university personnel had to go to the common prisons when they were sentenced. That would avoid that they had to live together with uneducated people and they could proceed with their academic activities. Every day, prisoners were escorted though the library (one of the entrances of the prison[!]) to go to classes. Besides the jail, the university had its own court that applied the law to the personnel of the university, who weren't judged by the common courts for most of the legal offences.

More web links:
My TE posts of Coimbra
Wikipedia / Joanina Library
Wikipedia / University of Coimbra
Official site of University of Coimbra

Location (latitude, longitude): 40.20739,-8.42656

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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