Biblioteca casanatense
biblioteca casanatense

Casanatense Library

Duration: 1 hour
Guided tour with exclusive opening

The Casanatense owes its birth to Cardinal Girolamo Casanate (1620-1700), who with a will disposed the bequest to the Dominicans of the convent of S. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, of his book collection, rich in over 20,000 volumes and substantial revenues for the establishment and future increase of the library, which would have been named after him. The Dominicans commission the architect A.M. Borioni to design a building in the area of the cloister of the convent: the result was a room of vast dimensions, austere and of great elegance, with a double order of shelves along the walls to accommodate the volumes, still marked today by wooden cartouches on which the indications of the different sciences and disciplines are legible. The Casanatense was inaugurated on 3 November 1701 and soon became one of the most important and well-stocked libraries of the time, thanks to a capillary network of contacts in the main centers of the European book market and careful library care, of which the alphabetical catalog testifies Audiffredi prepared by GB Audiffredi, who directed it from 1759 to 1794. In 1873 the law on the suppression of religious corporations was also extended to Rome, and in 1884, at the end of the long process initiated by the Dominican order, the ownership of the Casanatense passed definitively to the Italian state. Today it is one of the state public libraries of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism