Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, the national library of the Vatican

July 23rd, 2014 | General | No Comments »

Vatican Library entrance © Benoit Lhoest/cc-by-sa-3.0

Vatican Library entrance © Benoit Lhoest/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Vatican Apostolic Library (Latin: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana), more commonly called simply the Vatican Library, is the library of the Holy See, currently located in Vatican City. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. Formally established in 1475, though in fact much older, it has 75,000 codices from throughout history. On 20 March 2014, the Holy See announced that NTT Data Corporation and the Library concluded an agreement to digitize approximately 3,000 of the Library’s manuscripts within four years. It noted that there is the possibility of subsequently digitizing another 79,000 of the Library’s holdings. These will be high-definition images available on the Library’s Internet site.

Pope Nicholas V established the library in the Vatican in 1448 by combining some 350 Greek, Latin and Hebrew codices inherited from his predecessors with his own collection and extensive acquisitions, among them manuscripts from the imperial Library of Constantinople. The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana was established in 1475. When its first librarian, Bartolomeo Platina, produced a listing in 1481, the library held over 3,500 items, making it by far the largest in the Western world. Around 1587, Pope Sixtus V commissioned the architect Domenico Fontana to construct a new building for the library; it is still in use today. Books were displayed on benches to which they were chained.
 

Today, the library holds some 75,000 manuscripts and over 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula. The Vatican Secret Archives were separated from the library at the beginning of the 17th century; they contain another 150,000 items. Among the most famous holdings of the library is the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, the oldest known nearly complete manuscript of the Bible. The Secret History of Procopius was discovered in the library and published in 1623. The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science and theology, open to anyone who can document their qualifications and research needs. Photocopies for private study of pages from books published between 1801 and 1990 can be requested in person or by mail.

The Library closed on 17 July 2007. It was reopened September 20, 2010. A School of Library Science is associated with the Vatican Library. In 1959, a Film Library was established. This is not to be confused with the Vatican Film Library, which was established in 1953 at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2012, plans were announced to digitize, in collaboration with the Bodleian Library, a million pages of material from the Vatican Library”. A grant was provided by the London-based Polonsky Foundation.

Read more on Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, vaticanstate.va – Vatican Library and Wikipedia Vatican Library. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.


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Hamburg’s warehouse district, the largest historic warehouse complex in the world

July 19th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

© Thomas Wolf - www.foto-tw.de/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Thomas Wolf – www.foto-tw.de/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Speicherstadt (meaning warehouse district) in Hamburg is the largest warehouse district in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations. It is located in the the HafenCity quarter and was built from 1883 to 1927.

The Speicherstadt is located in the port of Hamburg and 1.5 km (0.93 mi) long and pervaded by loading canals. The district was built as a free zone to transfer goods without paying customs. As of 2009 the district and the surrounding area is under redevelopment.
 

The warehouses were built with different support structures, but Andreas Meyer created a Neo-Gothic red-brick outer layer with little towers, alcoves, and glazed terra cotta ornaments. The warehouses are multi-storey buildings with entrances from water and land. One of the oldest warehouses is the Kaispeicher B of the International Maritime Museum.

The Speicherstadt is a tourist attraction in Hamburg. There are several museums like the Deutsches Zollmuseum (German Customs Museum), Miniatur Wunderland (a model railway), the Hamburg Dungeon, and the Afghan Museum. The buildings are also used as warehouses. As of 2005, the companies in the Speicherstadt handled one-third of the world’s carpet production, and other goods as cocoa, coffee, tea, spices, maritime equipment, and electronic goods.

Read more on Speicherstadt Museum and Wikipedia Warehouse District. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.


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Semperoper, the opera house of Dresden

July 16th, 2014 | General | No Comments »

© Sebastian Terfloth/cc-by-3.0

© Sebastian Terfloth/cc-by-3.0

The Semperoper is the opera house of the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (Saxon State Opera) and the concert hall of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden (Saxon State Orchestra). It is also home to the Semperoper ballet. The building is located on the Theatre Square in central Dresden on the bank of the Elbe River in the historic centre of Dresden. The opera house was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper in 1841. After a devastating fire in 1869, the opera house was rebuilt, partly again by Semper, and completed in 1878. The opera house has a long history of premieres, including major works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.

The first opera house at the location of today’s Semperoper was opened on 13 April 1841 with an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. The building style itself is debated among many, as it has features that appear in three styles; Early Renaissance and Baroque, with Corinthian style pillars typical of Greek classical revival. Perhaps the most suitable label for this style would be eclecticism, where influences from many styles are used, a practice most common during this period. Nevertheless, the opera building, Semper’s first, is regarded as one of the most beautiful European opera houses.
 

Following a devastating fire in 1869, the citizens of Dresden immediately set about rebuilding their opera house. They demanded that Gottfried Semper do the reconstruction, even though he was then in exile because of his involvement in the May 1849 uprising in Dresden. The architect had his son, Manfred Semper, build the second opera house using his plans. Completed in 1878, it was built in Neo-Renaissance style. During the construction period, performances were held at the Gewerbehaussaal, which opened in 1870.

In the pre-war years, the Semperoper premiered many of the works of Richard Strauss. In 1945, during the last months of World War II, the building was largely destroyed again, this time by the bombing of Dresden and subsequent firestorm, leaving only the exterior shell standing. Exactly 40 years later, on 13 February 1985, the opera’s reconstruction was completed. It was rebuilt to be almost identical to its appearance before the war, but with the benefit of new stage machinery and an accompanying modern rear service building. The Semperoper reopened with the opera that was performed just before the building’s destruction in 1945, Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischütz“.

Read more on Semperoper, Semperoper Guided Tours and Wikipedia Semperoper. Photos by Wikimedia Commons.


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