The following is an excerpt from Cameron Laux | July 3, 2018 | BBC.com |
If you are a fan of minimalism, you might want to don your sunglasses and take a tranquilliser now. If, on the other hand, you believe like the writer Jorge Luis Borges that Paradise is a library, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to be transported to heaven on earth.
A new book from Taschen, Massimo Listri: The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, features images taken by Listri of the oldest and finest libraries around the world, from medieval to 19th-Century institutions and private to monastic collections. It claims to be ‘a bibliophile beauty pageant’.
The Vatican Library has its roots in the 4th Century CE, although in its current form it was established in the 15th Century. In the 16th Century Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to create new buildings to house the Vatican collections, and these are still used today. The decoration is so dizzyingly luxurious that it suggests a sort of fractal geometry.
Like most of the vast Vatican complex, the library is a display of the spiritual and temporal influence that has allowed the Vatican to constitute itself as a sovereign state. In addition to documents spanning much of human history, the library possesses the oldest known manuscript of the Bible. When the librarian shushes you, you might want to listen: he has the rank of cardinal.
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