October 23, 2017
October 23, 2017


The Batthyaneum Library is one of Alba Iulia’s places of utmost importance. Owing to its valuable collection of medieval and pre-modern books, the Batthyaneum Library has remained a true rare book museum since it was established – more than 200 years ago.

The building was built in a corner of the citadel in the first half of the eighteenth century. It is a place of dual value: spiritual and cultural. It is a monument of religious architecture, since the place initially served as a church and monastery for the Trinitarians (an old Catholic order dedicated to the Holy Trinity). Then, towards the end of the same century, the building was turned into a military hospital, suffering a series of changes.

Subsequently, the complex was taken over by the bishop scholar Ignatius Batthyány, who gave it a cultural destination (1792). After new transformations, the former church became a library and astronomical observer. The latter functioned on the upper floor of the building and at that time was the most modern in Transylvania. Currently, it is decommissioned.

The cultural value of the place is given today by the Batthyaneum Library, which has preserved a genuine treasure. Its main attraction is the imposing “Aula Magna”, located in the former nave of the Trinitarian Church. It is a museum of rare tomes, arranged on huge shelves and giving the place an unmistakable scent of old books. Given the value of manuscripts, books of the early printing and those printed by the most famous printing houses of the 16th-17th centuries, we can safely say that the Batthyaneum Library shelters a genuine treasure of the medieval and pre-modern book in Europe.

The pièce de résistance of its collections is the famous Codex Aureus, dating back to the beginning of the 9th century and written in gold. Other pieces of great value are a thirteenth century Sacred Bible, written in very small Gothic characters; the Codex Burgundus, with  35 French Renaissance miniatures; the Liber chronicarum, decorated with Dürer’s engravings (1493); the first modern geographical atlas, compiled by Abraham Ortelius (1595) or the New Testament of Bălgrad (1648).

Near the Aula room there is a bust of Bishop Ignatius Batthyány, who left humanity this immense treasure, generically referred to as Batthyaneum. The Batthyaneum funds and collections are addressed to both Romanian and foreign researchers; but a visit to the library is possible under special conditions.