Biblioteca Joanina

Historic Building and Library in Coimbra

Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Jl FilpoC

The Biblioteca Joanina, also known as the Joanina Library, is one of the most famous attractions at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. Built in the 18th century, the library is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, with its stunning baroque architecture, ornate decorations, and impressive collection of books.

The library features three floors of elaborately decorated rooms, with shelves lined with books, paintings, and gilded sculptures. The ceiling of the main reading room is adorned with an intricate fresco depicting the allegory of science and art. The library’s collection includes thousands of rare and valuable books, many of which date back to the 16th century.

Prisão Acadêmica

The basement of the Biblioteca Joanina once housed a prison used for disciplining unruly students. Initially situated beneath the Sala dos Capelos, it was subsequently moved to the medieval jail below the library. Surprisingly, the university had its own separate legal system in operation. Following the liberal revolution in Portugal in 1834, the prison was repurposed as a repository for books and illuminated manuscripts obtained from convents and monasteries.

Access to the prison is included in visits to the Biblioteca.

Visiting Biblioteca Joanina

Visitors can take guided tours of the Biblioteca Joanina to learn about its history and architecture, and view its impressive collection of books and art. The library is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, or literature.

The Biblioteca Joanina appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Coimbra!

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Visiting Biblioteca Joanina


9am-7.30pm Mar-Oct, 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm Nov-Feb


adult/under 26yr/child incl Paço das Escolas, Capela de São Miguel & Museu da Ciência €12.50/10/free

Address: Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra, Portugal
Duration: 20 minutes

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