National Library Valletta - The Best Mobile Map and Guide Tool if you visit Malta!

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Facade of the National Library Valletta
The National Library

The National Libraryof Malta, or Biblotheca is the place were there are thousands of manuscripts from the time of the Order of St John. Although Napoleon Bonaparte had ordered all the manuscripts to be destroyed, fortunately, only a part of the priceless collection fell victim to this decision; part of the financial documentation of the Order was ripped into strips to make gunpowder cartridges for the pistols and guns of the French soldiers.
Historians and scientists from all over the world go to this library for research, because the collection also contains the archives of the Order of St. John, including the founding act of the Order of St. John from 1113.

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In 1555 the idea was expressed about a public library. Fra 'Claude de la Sengle, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, thought it a good idea and stated that all the books of the deceased knights should be donated to the common treasury of the Order.

The first library was housed in a room above the chapel of St John's monastery church before moving to the Forfantone building.

In 1776 the Bibliotheca Publica Foundation was founded by Grandmaster Emmanuel de Rohan.

The most important collections were:
Fra 'Louis Guérin de Tencin, in which a collection of Cardinal Joaquin Portocarrero, who had bought the Tencin himself at the death of Cardinal in 1760;
bailiff Louis Guérin de Tencin and Grand Cross of the Order who died in 1766.

The library was named Bibliotheca Tanseana in honor of the Tencin. The Tencin is still considered today as the founder of the library.

In the Forfantone building (corner of Republic Street and St. Lucy Street) the books were kept in small rooms. Some books very rare. The building became too small.

The Polish architect Stefano Ittar living in Italy was commissioned by Grandmaster Emmanuel de Rohan to design a library. 1796 the building in the heart of Valletta was finished.

The books were not moved over, the two-year French blockade followed, and the British period began in 1800.

In 1812, 14 years after the building was finished, the building was officially inaugurated by the British civilian commissioner, Sir Hildebrand Oakes. The chosen day was the official birthday of King George III, June 4. From that moment on the name is Malta Public Library.

In 1925 the Library got its legal status and in 1936 King George V. gave it the "Royal" Malta Public Library.

In 1976 a new public library was opened in Floriana and the library in Valletta became the "national library of Malta" and is now a research library.

The design is an early example of neoclassical architecture in Malta. It has a symmetrical facade with Doric and Ionic columns.

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Additional information

The design is an early example of neoclassical architecture in Malta. It has a symmetrical facade with Doric and Ionic columns.

Facade of the Royal National Library in the 19th Century by Charles de Brocktorff.

There are various display cases in the library, concerning the library.

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National Library - Find tourist and Holidays information about Rabat in our Map app and discover interesting sights. Find all things to do and places of interest in your tour.

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