NATIONAL LIBRARY, Historical Notes

Audio File length: 2.40
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, I'm Alyson, your personal guide. Together with MyWoWo, I'd like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world.

Today I'll accompany you through the National Library of Spain, which is one of the most peaceful places in Madrid!

This venerable institution was founded in the early 1700s by Philip V as the "Royal Library" thanks to the fact that its first nucleus belonged to the royal collections. In its three centuries of existence it has changed several locations and names, until it finally settled permanently in the palace in front of you. In 1866 Queen Isabella laid the first stone of what became the "Palacio de Biblioteca y Museos Nacionales," which was initially also home to the National Archaeological Museum.

Rising above the portico of this neo-classical two-story building are statues of famous writers who almost seem to welcome you to the temple of knowledge. In the foreground, seated and immersed in reading, we can see San Isidro (Madrid's patron saint) and to his right sits the most learned King in Spain's history, Alfonso X, who not surprisingly was nicknamed "The Wise". In the background behind them we can see the Nebrija humanists and Luis Vives, the playwright Lope de Vega, and the legendary author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes.

You can join a free guided tour inside the library. The right side of the building offers access to the National Library of Spain Museum, open free of charge every day. Its eight rooms will offer you more information about this impressive building, but also about the history of communication, and of course books.

The library has reached its limit: just think, it holds more than thirty-two million documents!! In the 80s a new separate library was opened in Alcalá de Henares that is composed of modular towers which will be expanded according to the library's growing needs.


FUN FACT: the library's star is Cervantes; you saw his statue on the façade. The library has 3000 editions of Don Quixote in 30 languages!


And with this we have finished our tour of the National Library in Madrid. MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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