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Classical Weimar

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar was founded by Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1739–1807), who in 1766 had the ducal library moved to its current building. It’s famous for its impressive oval library hall in late rococo style. In 2004, it drew international attention when the hall was severely damaged in a devastating fire that destroyed around 50,000 books and left the two galleries completely gutted. After the fire, which was caused by a defective electrical connection, the building was completely restored to its former glory and reopened in 2007. Every day 290 visitors are allowed into the Rococo Hall. It’s advisable to make a reservation in advance, because only 70 admission tickets are set aside each day for purchase at the ticket counter.

The Rococo Hall at the Duchess Anna Amalia Library
The Rococo Hall in the Duchess Anna Amalia Library

In 2005, the Library opened a new Study Centre, well integrated into the existing baroque structures across the square, designed by architects Hilde Barz-Malfatti & Karl-Heinz Schmitz, who are both Bauhaus University professors. The monumental four-storey Bücherkubus, intended as a contemporary pendant to the Rococo Hall, is beyond doubt its most attractive feature, but the overall topology of the Library is of interest as well: at basement level it turns out that the library stacks are actually located right under the town square, and that an underground passageway connects the Study Centre to the historic building. The new building is only accessible to patrons, but for just € 10 you can obtain a library card and enjoy life-long access to the Library and its collection of one million books & other resources.

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The Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek is a research library for literary & cultural history, with a collection focusing on German literature from the period around 1800, the so-called Goethezeit. Interestingly, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who worked as a senior civil servant in the Duchy of Weimar, was one of the directors of the Library from 1797 until his death in 1832.


In 2004, the Rococo Hall of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek fell victim to a severe fire. The exhibition Restoration after the Fire in the Renaissance Hall of the HAAB provides an in-depth look at the type & extent of the damage, as well as the restoration of 118,000 books & manuscripts damaged by fire & water.