National Library of Austria – the smell of knowledge, history, grandeur and opulence

Written by Carla Louca

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My husband and I went to Vienna for the first time on Friday, and we only had enough money to pay for one attraction – naturally, we chose the Austrian National Library.

WHAT A PLACE!  It is celebrating 650 years of existence this year, so they have the most wonderful collection on display.  I saw letters written by Sigmund Freud and Albert Camus, two globes from the 1600’s, sheet music written by Gustav Mahler, and a 1700’s map of my home state of Alabama.  Synchronicity at its finest indeed!

The smell!  It smells like knowledge and history and grandeur and opulence.  The smell of old manuscripts hits you in the face the minute you walk in the door and it doesn’t fade – I was sniffing the air the entire time and just closing my eyes and basking in it.  I can’t describe it but if you’re a book nerd, then you know that feeling of just needing to bury your face in an old book to absorb its essence. I’m pretty sure that’s what Heaven will smell like.

The photos can’t even remotely do this place justice.  If you love books and you have time for just one exhibit in Vienna, go to the Hofburg for a view of this amazing library.  It’s not in the main entrance! The State Hall is to the left of the main entrance, around the corner, past the Chapel and the Treasury, and up a few flights of stairs.  I’m pretty sure they’ve made it accessible for those who need to use the elevator too.

Thanks for letting me share my excitement, and I look forward to spending time enjoying your website and galleries and living the library life through all of the wonderful shared experiences.

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