Bavarian State Library

Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) is one of the most important libraries in Europe, with one of the most important research collections in the world, of over 9.81 million volumes.

The library continues, in fact, the tradition of the Wittelsbach royal court library, originally founded back in 1558.

The current library building, located next to the St Ludwig church, was originally intended for the Königsplatz, opposite Glyptothek building.

However, architect Friedrich von Gärtner was commissioned to design the library building to Ludwigstrasse…with the library under construction from 1832-1843.


PHOTO: The state library’s main entrance, as seen from Ludwigsstrasse. Statues next to the main entrance, nicknamed by locals as “four holy wisemen”, are designs by Ludwig von Schwanthaler. The statues portray (left to right): Thukydides, Homer, Aristoteles, and Hippokrates (closest in the picture). The statues are allegorical to the many faces of science, and a reference to the way the library collects all aspects of scientific knowledge.

The 152 m (166 yards) long, 78 m (85 yards) wide, and 24 m (26 yards) tall library building is centrally located to Munich, within Ludwigstrasse, and it’s building includes two inner courtyards.

In terms of literary collections, the library has an extensive main collection, plus various special collections available for research purposes, including:

  • one of the world’s best collections of original manuscripts (92,000 volumes) and
  • world’s largest collection of incunables (, 19,900 volumes, including a rare Gutenberg bible).

The state library also houses one of the world’s largest collections of periodicals, second only to the collection at British Library.

To take advantage of these collections, the excellent reading rooms at the library are used daily by over 3,000 visitors.

Of these reading rooms, the main one has a collection of around 130,000 volumes, while the periodicals reading room contains around 18,000 volumes to choose from.

There are also separate reading rooms for manuscripts, maps, pictures, music, as well as East-European and Eastern Asian books.