The building was erected in the first part of the 18th century, first serving as a church and monastery for the Trinitarian monks, an old catholic order dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The foundation stone was set within a ceremony to which took part political, military and clerical personalities of the time. This contained lyrics, an ode addressed to austrian authorities such as Emperor (king) Charles the 6th, Count Steinville, the commander of the Transylvania`s troops or governor Sigismund Kornis.
To the end of the 18th century, based on the religious reform of Joseph the 2nd, including the abolish of monks orders, the building was transformed in military hospital, also experiencing some modifications. Not long after, the building was taken by Bishop Ignatiu Batthyany (1741-1798) and it was subject to new transformations, so starting with the year 1792, the old church became a library and an astronomic observatory. The latter worked on the upper level and it was the first astronomic observatory in the Romanian space; this explains the name of Urania found on the building`s frontispiece, but also the iconography program from the inside – at present, the observatory is disaffected.
The library is impressive due to its collections, manuscripts, incunabula, imprints, archaeological pieces. Next to the Bishop Batthyany precious collection, the number of priceless pieces grew, first by purchasing Cardinal Migazzi library in 1786. Next, there were made other purchases.
An outstanding item is Codex Aureus, also known by the name of the Lorsch Gospels. It is a valuable piece of Carolingian art, dating from the beginning of 9th century and written on parchment with uncial letters and golden ink. The manuscript was divided in two, a half being in Vatican`s Library, and the other half and the most beautiful reached Batthyaneum Library, in the end. Other pieces of remarkable value are Psalterium Davidicum, from 12th century, Biblia Sacra dating from 13th century, written with very small Gothic letters, Codex Burgundus, containing 35 french Renaissance miniatures, Liber chronicarum, from 1493, decorated with Durer`s engravings, Theatrum orbis terrarium, the first modern geographical atlas, made by Abraham Ortelius in 1595, then, there are, Palia from Orastie, from 1582, The New Testament from Balgrad, from 1648 and the Bible of Stefan Cantacuino from 1688.
Biside of these, there are more other rare manuscripts, starting from 9th century, a large number -609- of incunabula (first imprints, since the invention of printing press to the year 1500), then older imprints from 16th to 19th centuries and a large number of midieval documents.
The library as a special visit schedule, requiring a previous recorded application.
Scientific consultant: Tudor Roșu, PhD historian
Translation made by: Ciprian Dobra, PR expert
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.