The Ambrosiana Library is undoubtedly one of the most important conservation libraries in Italy and in the world, owing to the vastness of its collections and the number and pricelessness of its codices. The Ambrosiana Library, founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo on 7th September 1607 and inaugurated on 8th December 1609, was one of the first libraries to be opened to "anyone that could read, and write".
It was conceived by its founder as a comprehensive cultural centre for study and culture along with the Board of Fellows (Collegio dei Dottori, 1607), the Art Gallery (Pinacoteca, 1618), the Drawing Academy for teaching painting, sculpture and architecture (Accademia del Disegno, 1620), the Tri-lingual Board (Collegio trilingue) and the Board of Alumni (Collegio degli Alunni, 1625).
The Library specializes in classical, historical, literary and religious volumes, particularly in a retrospective sense, that is to say, directed at the study of the past. It supports researchers with reference and material, it is tradition for scholars to donate the resulting publications to the Ambrosiana.
Among the very rich collections of the Ambrosiana Library special attention is to be drawn to the arab and oriental library collection, The most important items are the Ilias Picta from the 5th century, the famous Virgilio with notes in the margin by Francesco Petrarca and illuminated by Simone Martini, Giuseppe Flavio in Latin on papyrus, the Bangor Antiphonary, and the Syro-Hexaplaric version of the Bible. There are moreover various codices such as the original manuscripts of De prospectiva pingendi by Piero della Francesca, of the Marziale completely transcribed by Boccaccio, the Life of Guidobaldo di Montefeltro (Vita di Guidobaldo di Montefeltro) written by Pietro Bembo and the original manuscripts by St. Thomas Aquinas, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Tasso, Galileo, as well as the entire library collections of Giuseppe Parini and Cesare Beccaria.
Monday to Friday 9:00 – 17:00
Public transport: MM1 - MM3 (Duomo station)