Palafoxiana Library | What to See & Do In Puebla City

Biblioteca Palafoxiana Ciudad de Puebla

When in 1646 the Bishop of Puebla, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, made the donation of his rich and select personal library of 5,000 volumes to the Tridentine colleges, he thought of the formation of his clergy, but also of the formation of Puebla's society, since he established that anyone who could read and write was allowed to enter.

Since it was a seminary-style library, it also allowed for a wide margin of reading, not only for the vast knowledge about God and His Church, but also for the study of everything that the pen of man could produce, in order to be able to have firm arguments to defend the faith.

Around 1773, the then bishop of Puebla, Francisco Fabián y Fuero, established the 43-meter long main nave of the Palafoxiana Library so that the population could have access to Bishop Palafox's collection, as well as his own, and built two floors of fine shelving made of ayacahuite, coloyote and cedar.

The collection grew thanks to the donations of the following bishops Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz and Francisco Pablo Vázquez, as well as the incorporation of the libraries of the Jesuit schools; for such a reason that today it has 45,059 volumes dating from the XV, XVI, XVII, XVII, XIX, XIX centuries and the smaller quantity of the XX century.

History was kind to this center of universal knowledge, one of the first libraries on the American continent, and the first to provide freedom of entry., since through its carved wooden door did not pass the excesses of tyranny or the ignorance of man.

Intact in its structure, the former Public Library (Palafoxiana) continued to house, in addition to its collection of antique books, an important collection of leaflets and loose sheets, as well as manuscripts essential for studying the history of Mexico.

In 1981 it was declared as National Historic Monument and in 2005, its bibliographic variety and richness earned it the title of UNESCO Memory of the World; thus acquiring more responsibilities and tasks to be carried out in order to be preserved for a thousand more years at the service of science and culture, as Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza would have wished.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

At its origin in 1646, after the donation of the bishop of Puebla Juan de Palafox y Mendoza of his personal bibliographic collection, it was a library for seminarians, so its reading range was much wider.

It is made up of 3 collections: books, manuscripts and loose printed matter; distributed in 54 subjects: Canon Law, Theology, Patristics, Pontiffs, Homiletics, Liturgy, Hagiography, Civil Law, Civil History, Medicine, Philosophy, Geography, Literature, Chemistry, Industry, among others.

There are texts in 14 languages: Spanish, Latin, French, Italian, English, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Nahuatl, Mixtec, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, to mention a few.

Among the books that stand out:

  • The Nine Books of History - 1473 - Herodotus
  • Book of Chronicles or Chronicle of the World - Anton Koberger
  • The Polyglot Bible or Biblia Regia - 1569 and 1573 - Benedict Arias, in eight volumes, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Chaldee, the first five volumes, the sixth, in Greek; printed by Christopher Plantino, in Amberes.
  • De Humani Corporis - 1543 - Andres Vesalius, printed by Loannes Oporini
  • El Vocabulario - 1571 - Alonso de Molina, printed by Antonio Espinosa
  • Doctrina Christiana - 1575 - Fray Juan de la Anunciación, printed by Pedro Balli

The collection of the 5,345 manuscripts is made up of unique testimonies that refer to the different stages of the life of the Palafoxian Library, documents of the administration of the ecclesiastical government and the pastoral practice of the bishops of Puebla de los Angeles and other dioceses of America and Europe.

Writings where the intellectual and religious life of the Real Seminario Palafoxiano, the first one in America, took shape.

Because most of the library's collection was initially donated by the Bishop of Puebla, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza.

The Palafoxiana Library in the City of Puebla, founded in 1646, was the first public library, allowing access to anyone who could read, not only to the clergy.

However, the precinct as we know it today was built in 1773 by Bishop Francisco Fabián y Fuero, who was in charge of ordering the construction of the first two floors of the shelves, built by New Spanish cabinetmakers who created beautiful pieces that are preserved to this day made of ayacahuite, polocote and cedar wood.

Where the Palafoxiana Library is located

Address: Av 5 Ote 5, Centro histórico de Puebla, 72000 Puebla, Pue. – Inside the Casa de la Cultura

More Official Info: Visit Puebla and Palafoxiana

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