Discover Portugal Mafra Library

Discover Portugal - Mafra Palace Library

To enrich our agenda of places to visit and discover Portugal, after our visit to the Palácio dos Condes de Óbidos, we will continue to discover Portugal, at the Convento de Mafra Library. On a starry summer night we went to visit the Mafra Library. One of the places to visit, as well as the works of Miró in the Help Palace.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Seems strange?

The idea of ​​this night visit, in addition to wanting to get to know the beautiful Library of Mafra and its history, was also intended to provide a meeting with our “friends” bats that, throughout this time, have been watching over the health of books and helped to look after such a great estate.

We entered the Mafra Palace and, after the first room, behold

Discovering Portugal at the Salão Grande do Rei
King's Great Hall

in the corridor immediately after, we are surprised by diligent ladies who cleaned Mafra Palace.

Our surprised maids
The diligent surprised ladies

They looked at each other and, surprised by the late visit, questioned whether we were not the guests of the Court who were expected by El Rei the next morning.

Of course we were!

We had arrived earlier because the way there was very well maintained and had made it possible to shorten the journey time.

In this adventure to discover Portugal this was an important point of discovery.

Very helpful, our first hostesses started trying to accommodate us during that night. The King and Queen had not yet arrived, so we were able to go for a walk and see the Palace.

We found the portrait of the King ...

A must see in Portugal. Portrait of King D. João VI
King D. João VI

... and the Queen's.

Queen D. Carlota Joaquina
Queen D. Carlota Joaquina

And, behold, the affable Duke arrives to welcome us and,

The Duke
The Duke

guided by him, we passed the music room where, many times, the Kings enjoyed with their guests good musical moments.

The Mafra Palace Music Room
The Music Room at the Mafra Palace

We were then taken by the Duke to the Library of the Convent of Mafra.

Places to visit. Interior of the Mafra Convent Library
The place to visit, inside the National Palace of Mafra Library courtesy of the PNM Library

The purchase of books for this Mafra Library was initiated by King D. João V.

In it, there are about 36.000 volumes, some of which contain several books, the exact amount is not known for certain.

The importance of this collection was recognized by Pope Benedict XIV, who in 1754 forbids the leaving of works at the Library of the Convent of Mafra, without Régia authorization, under penalty of excommunication and authorizing even the King to include works prohibited by the Index existent.

Some of these “forbidden works” placed on the shelves on the top floor of the Library, have a distinctive inscription that would not arouse suspicion to any curious.

There is a certain connection with the University of Coimbra, created in 1290 by D. Dinis and his Biblioteca Joanina, given that the beginning of this Library, in 1717, is simultaneous with the start of the construction of the National Palace of Mafra.

It is precisely at this time that large purchases of books abroad are made, the King sending emissaries with the mission of finding the latest and best works, purchasing them directly from publishers or using auctions. These books will be distributed to Mafra, Palácio das Necessidades and Biblioteca do Paço, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.

We are in the middle of Enlightenment and it seems that D. João V wanted to concentrate here all the knowledge that has existed to date.

The Casa da Livraria as it is also called, started with the purchase of the works by D. João V, as mentioned, but the space and construction of the shelves was carried out in the time of D. José I. They were ready around 1790 and, therefore, the books, although cataloged, were distributed in two rooms. A new organ was assembled in this room and needed. It was Frei João de Santa Anna who organized the Library in terms that can still be considered modern and effective today.

The bats that take care of the Mafra Library at night, without knowing where they enter or leave, help keep the books, feeding on the small insects that live on their dust, resulting largely from the release of cellulose particles that constitute them. It is a self-sustaining partnership relationship.

Let's discover Portugal and the Bats of the Mafra Library
Bat, the protector of the Library

Finally and to illustrate the tours in Portugal, also see the video of the Interior of the Library of the Convent of Mafra, in the Mafra Palace, a beautiful Heritage that we inherited.

See too


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2 thoughts on “Discovering Portugal - Mafra Palace Library”

  1. Congratulations on the project! I'm Ana Paula from the blog “Janela Singular”. I was immensely happy to know that you used such a beautiful name for a male blog. I wish you success! Hugs

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