2016 WORLD LUX 6A. 10. MEXICO - Palafoxiana Library WORLD LUXURY 2016 JPG

 

 

Mexico

 

Palafoxiana Library

 

 

Considered by some to be the oldest library in the Americas, the Palafoxiana has its roots in 1647 when Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, a Catholic bishop in New Spain, donated 5,000 of his own books to the College of San Juan, which he founded in the city of Puebla.  Construction of the library began in 1773 using materials and craftsmen from all over Spain’s holdings in the New World to house the collection, which included works of theology, philosophy and history.  Additional donations of prints and manuscripts were added during the colonial period by other bishops, different religious institutions and private individuals so that the library grew to equal the finest libraries of 18th century Europe.

Today the library holds 45,000 rare books and manuscripts dating primarily from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.  The collection includes a collection of works confiscated from the Jesuit order when it was persecuted by the Spanish and expelled from Mexico in 1767, and material covering the history of Mexico.

The magnificent reading room is modeled on the beautiful cathedrals of the Old World and contains a gilded altar at the far end, which includes a replica of the Madonna of Trapani, a religious sculpture from the 14th century.  In 1981 the Palafoxiana was declared a National Historic Landmark, and it has since been entered into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.  Although it sustained damage after the 1999 earthquakes in Mexico, it has been restored and returned to its original splendor as well as strengthened so that the building and its bookshelves will be able to withstand future earthquakes.





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