State Hall of the Austrian National Library

The Baroque State Hall is one of the world’s most beautiful historic libraries.

By Austrian National Library

Austrian National Library

Karl VI, German-Roman emperor (1714) by Josef Anton FischerAustrian National Library

Emperor Charles VI (1685 – 1740) ordered the construction of this jewel of secular Baroque architecture for his Court Library.

Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von ErlachAustrian National Library

The State Hall was built from 1723 till 1726 according to the plans of the famous court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and carried out by his son Joseph Emanuel.

Daniel Gran, copy of a self-portrait in Stift HerzogenburgAustrian National Library

The frescos in the State Hall of the former Court Library are the most famous work of Daniel Gran. They were commissioned by the Emperor and done in the years 1726 to 1730.

Cupola fresco in the State Hall (1726/1730) by Daniel GranOriginal Source: The famous ceiling fresco in detail

The frescos in the cupola

Dilucida Repraesentatio Magnificae et Sumptuosae Bibliothecae Caesareae (1737) by Salomon KleinerAustrian National Library

From outside the State Hall takes up the whole front of Josef’s Square. It has a length of 77.7 m., a width of 14.2 m., and a height of 19.6 m.

State Hall longitudinal sectionAustrian National Library

Two side wings and a cupola space give the interior a three-part structure. The cupola has an oval horizontal shape with the measurements 18 m. and 29.2 m., and a height of 29.2 m. The wings are divided by two massive pair of columns, the “pillars of Hercules”, that present Charles VI’s motto “Constantia et fortitudine” (by persistence and courage). 

State Hall, Austrian National Library (1926) by Max JafféAustrian National Library

From 1730 until the 19th century the library hall and its side cabinets hosted all manuscripts, incunabula, pamphlets, maps, globes, music manuscripts, printed music, autographs, drawings and prints of the Court Library.

State Hall of the Austrian National Library (2017) by Österreichische Nationalbibliothek/HlochAustrian National Library

Today the State Hall is home to 200,000 books from 1501 till 1850, among them the 15,000 volumes of Prince Eugene of Savoy's (1663 – 1736) collection in the middle oval. All books are already digitized and can be accessed and read free of charge via the library's online catalogue. Annually two to three exhibitions are held here, presenting exceptional properties of the Austrian National Library. The State Hall attracts every year approximately 330,000 visitors from around the world.

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Austrian National Library

Project Management and Editorial Services: Heidrun Kubart, Thomas Zauner

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