National Library of Spain

The Biblioteca Nacional de España is a major public library, the largest in Spain, and one of the largest in the world. It is located in Madrid, on the Paseo de Recoletos

Between Madrid’s Recoletos avenue and Serrano street, alongside Plaza de Colón Square, you will find the majestic National Library building. It has a rectangular floor plan and is neoclassical in style. Work began on its construction in 1866 and was completed in 1892, coinciding with the 4th centenary of the discovery of the Americas.

Come and visit this library which is a monument in itself. Special mention should be made of its broad exterior staircase and its main façade, with a Corinthian style, square-fronted portico, finished with sculptures by the artist Agustín Querol, representing the Triumph of the Sciences and the Arts. The National Library houses a bibliographic archive of incalculable value, comprised of books from the early days of print, engravings, musical scores, manuscripts, editorial rarities and a host of printed documents. The National Archaeological Museum is to be found directly alongside this building.

The National Library (Biblioteca Nacional) was founded by King Philip V at the end of 1711 (known at this time as the Real Biblioteca or Royal Library), and opened its doors for the first time in March of 1712. It houses a copy of every single book published in Spain, as well as a valuable collection of incunables, manuscripts, prints, drawings, photographs, maps, sound recordings, scores, etc. It also has additional premises in Alcalá de Henares.

The Biblioteca Nacional raises awareness about the bibliographic heritage it houses through its catalogue and the compilation of the Spanish Bibliography. It also offers public services including consultation rooms and remote services through its webpage, as well as specialist bibliographic information services and inter-library loans. In order to consult these collections, you must have a reader’s or researchers’ card.

The Library has a free Museum and Exhibition Rooms, so that members of the public can find out more about the collections, the history of the National Library and how it operates.

The National Library also includes the National Newspaper and Periodicals Library, which thanks to the digitalization process started in 2007, gives the public online access to historical and modern Spanish newspapers that are part of the National Library’s collection.


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