The Prunksaal (Ceremonial room)
of the Austrian National Library

The central entry on the Josefsplatz leads to the National Library, the main entrance of which is found on the Heldenplatz though, where it leads into the imperial castle as well. Here you can climb some stairs in order to come to the Prunksaal - an effort that one really should make. Only the staircase guarantees some spectacular views. The lapidarium, shown there, presents mainly stones from Roman times. There are plenty of those in Vienna, as the fortress "Vindobona" was situated on this spot. It was a part of the Limes, that was the border fortification of the Roman Empire. You can find more information about that in the Römermuseum (Roman museum) in Vienna.


A glance up the stairs will reward you with exquisite stucco and a harmonic environment. It is simply beautifully designed and already here the visitor gets prepared for the climax.
And yes! When you enter the Prunksaal, you will be overwhelmed! Two hundred thousand old books are stored here, their first edition dating between the years 1501 and 1850. Fifteen thousand come from the collection of Prinz Eugen von Savoyen, who, around the century shift to the 18th century, forever banned the danger arising from the Osman Empire, not at least at the battle of Peterwardein and finally by conquering Belgrade.
Anybody, who loves books, will experience joy, when the eyes trail along the big shelves, filled with dark brown, leather-bound volumes. How much culture and history isn't collected in this magnificent room!
The room covers the entire length of the Josefsplatz - it measures almost seventy-eight metres. Apart from that it is fourteen metres wide and its height is almost twenty metres - quite impressive figures. In the middle of the room a dome rises another ten metres. There are also two side-wings that spread out from beneath the dome.

In every corner of the crossing an old globe is placed. The one on the picture was made by Vincenzo Coronelli from Venice in 1693. It was owned by the husband of Maria Theresia, the Emperor Franz Stephan of Lorraine.
The Prunksaal was built on orders of Emperor Karl VI, Franz Stephan's father in law, in the 1720's. Karl VI still stands as statue in the centre of the room under the dome.
The drawings for the entire implementation are from Fischer von Erlach, the famous Viennese architect of the Baroque period. Daniel Gran was responsible for the frescoes on the ceiling.


Under the showcases there are folios, which don't fit into the shelves because of their size. In the showcases themselves most diverse things are shown, of greater or lesser interest. As an example I find a certificate issued on the name of Franz Jonas, who was not only Mayor of Vienna, but also President of Austria. The report tells, that Franz Jonas has passed the final test in Esperanto "with very good results". He even is authorized to work as a teacher of Esperanto.
The room is also used for varying expositions. Right now there is an exposition about World War I. That means, that the visitor gets to see not only the beauty of the room, but also some additional benefit.

© Bernhard Kauntz, Västerås, 2014

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28.7.2014 by