5 incredible libraries in Rome

1) Società Geografica Italiana

Boasting some 300.000 volumes, this is one of the most important specialised libraries in the world. Housed inside a 16th-century villa, it includes a section with over 50.000 modern and historical maps, focusing on Italy’s territory and seas, and, more than 150.000 photographs from the mid-19th century onwards. Visits on appointment only.

interior of Società Geografica Italiana

2) Casanata

Located inside the Gothic cloister of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, this cathedral of books was founded in 1702 by Dominican friars. Today it holds some 400.000 volumes in wall-to-wall sculpted wooden bookshelves. Free admission upon appointment.

interior of Casanata

3) Vallicelliana

This 16th-century library boasts over 100.000 volumes of antique and ancient manuscripts, incunabula, and books, stacked on two levels of carved wooden bookshelves from the 17th century. The library is part of the Institute of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.

exterior of Vallicelliana

Piazza della Chiesa Nuova 18

+39 (0)6 6880 2671


4) Accademia dei Lincei

Founded in 1603, this library was conceived as the nucleus of the Accademia dei Lincei, one of the world’s first academies of the scientific revolution. Books collected over the centuries showcase the interdisciplinary spirit of the academy, ranging from philosophy, maths, and science, to literature, alchemy and hermetic texts. Open to the public. Closed in August.

interior of Accademia dei Lincei

5) Angelica

The library owes its name to Angelo Rocca, the 16th-century bishop who managed the Vatican printing house, helping him amass a collection of 20.000 volumes. Today the collection is roughly ten times as large, consisting of liturgical and scholarly books, maps, and atlases, as well as four Renaissance globes.

interior of Angelica library

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