If a library is a treasure for the objects it contains (or, better, for that which they contain), objects contained within places themselves beautiful are perhaps doubly suggestive. The story goes that the Metten Abbey Library began as a small collection of books in around 1260. Today, it’s one of the most beautiful in the world: for the space it occupies, deliriously baroque, and for the thousands of specimens it hosts.

Known also as the Kloster Metten, and the Monastery of St. Michael, the Bavarian cloister was originally established in 766 by Benedictine monks. As a monastery, it was established in around 1260. It always served as an educational space, inhabited by philosophers, academics, and theologians. In the 15th century a scriptorium (where the monks copied the manuscripts) was added to the complex. And little by little, the monastery accrued an impressive collection of manuscripts, especially during the leadership of an abbot named Johannes Nablas (1560-1739).

The abbey’s Baroque-style library was built between 1722 and 1726, the result of several commissioned artists who brought the space to life with frescoes, sculptures, and decorous bookshelves. The ceiling vault is supported by pillars with allegorical statues by artist Franz Josef Ignaz Holzinger. Some frescoes portray characters from the history of Christianity such as those of Saint Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory, all carrying the books they wrote during their lives. Saint Jerome —one of the four fathers of the church— carries in his hands a volume by Cicero.

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Today, 35,000 books make up the overwhelming collection. Not all of them belong to the period in which the space was created. Between 1803 and 1815, the property was confiscated and many of the books were sent to universities and libraries in the region. In 1830, the monastery was recovered and opened a school, after which many of the lost books were returned and the library was completed with donations from other monasteries and purchased volumes. One of the most valuable treasures is the Metten Antiphonary —a collection of 15th-century musical manuscripts— and a tremendous number of philosophical and theological manuscripts from over the centuries. In 2019, a new library was built inside the monastery for the lack of space. Decorated by the artist Robert M. Weber, it holds some 300,000 volumes.

Like the Strahov Monastery, this one and its fantastic library have witnessed the passage of time, a repository for the hundreds of stories and thousands of books, humankind’s most beautiful creations.

Images: 1) Wolfgang Sauber – Creative Commons 2) Zairon – Creative Commons

If a library is a treasure for the objects it contains (or, better, for that which they contain), objects contained within places themselves beautiful are perhaps doubly suggestive. The story goes that the Metten Abbey Library began as a small collection of books in around 1260. Today, it’s one of the most beautiful in the world: for the space it occupies, deliriously baroque, and for the thousands of specimens it hosts.

Known also as the Kloster Metten, and the Monastery of St. Michael, the Bavarian cloister was originally established in 766 by Benedictine monks. As a monastery, it was established in around 1260. It always served as an educational space, inhabited by philosophers, academics, and theologians. In the 15th century a scriptorium (where the monks copied the manuscripts) was added to the complex. And little by little, the monastery accrued an impressive collection of manuscripts, especially during the leadership of an abbot named Johannes Nablas (1560-1739).

The abbey’s Baroque-style library was built between 1722 and 1726, the result of several commissioned artists who brought the space to life with frescoes, sculptures, and decorous bookshelves. The ceiling vault is supported by pillars with allegorical statues by artist Franz Josef Ignaz Holzinger. Some frescoes portray characters from the history of Christianity such as those of Saint Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory, all carrying the books they wrote during their lives. Saint Jerome —one of the four fathers of the church— carries in his hands a volume by Cicero.

metten1

Today, 35,000 books make up the overwhelming collection. Not all of them belong to the period in which the space was created. Between 1803 and 1815, the property was confiscated and many of the books were sent to universities and libraries in the region. In 1830, the monastery was recovered and opened a school, after which many of the lost books were returned and the library was completed with donations from other monasteries and purchased volumes. One of the most valuable treasures is the Metten Antiphonary —a collection of 15th-century musical manuscripts— and a tremendous number of philosophical and theological manuscripts from over the centuries. In 2019, a new library was built inside the monastery for the lack of space. Decorated by the artist Robert M. Weber, it holds some 300,000 volumes.

Like the Strahov Monastery, this one and its fantastic library have witnessed the passage of time, a repository for the hundreds of stories and thousands of books, humankind’s most beautiful creations.

Images: 1) Wolfgang Sauber – Creative Commons 2) Zairon – Creative Commons