St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek. Foto/photo: Wikipedia

Oldest Library of Switzerland

The beginning of libraries can be traced back to the ancient civilizations in Egypt, Iraq and Iran, around 3000-1000 BC. Libraries also existed in ancient Greece. They were located in temples or in buildings of education and grammar schools. The Library of Alexandria is the most famous example.

Rulers, scholars and writers possessed private libraries. The (local) elites in Rome and many provincial cities of the Empire founded and financed public libraries as acts of euergetism.

Monasteries were the sole educational institutions after the fall of the Roman Empire and the consolidation of ecclesiastical power in the 6th century,

Their libraries were scriptoria, book illumination- and writing workshops in Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other regions in Latin Europe.

The collecting of (antique) manuscripts and copying of texts and book illumination reached a peak in the 9th century, at the time of the Carolingians.

The Library of the St. Gall Abbey exists since the middle of the 8th century. The abbot of Reichenau Abbey probably commissioned the famous design for a monastery complex.

The architecture, decoration and furnishings (Baroque) of one of the oldest medieval monasteries and libraries in Europe are a monument and a treasure of medieval and (illuminated) manuscripts, books and other writings.