The Malatesta Novello Library

The Library of Malatesta Novello, the last ancient library dating from immediately before the invention of printing, embodies the very concept of a humanist library. 

With its building, furnishings and manuscript collection, it constitutes a monumental and bibliographical complex of outstanding importance and is acknowledged the world over as the only fifteenth-century library still intact. The architectural design, which is possibly by Leon Battista Alberti, is splendid and innovative, but the focus and essence of the library are the books themselves. Besides the great works of medieval culture, Malatesta Novello collected the fruits of the classical Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arab traditions so that he could realize his project of a universal culture along humanist lines. The precious 343 codices are still in the place where they have lain for the past five centuries and are still linked to their original fifteenth-century chain on the same reading benches. The whole constitutes a book collection and an ideal endowment worthy of the library of a prince of the first half of the Renaissance.

Thanks to this cultural project, Cesena, despite its remote position and in company with Florence, Milan, Ferrara and Rome, was a driving force of humanist culture, the foundation of Western civilization. The Malatestiana, which started life as a gentleman’s library, was donated by Malatesta Novello to the local commune for public use and thus became one of the oldest public libraries in Europe. Read more about this element on the UNESCO Memory of the World website

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flag Italy
Capital: Rome
Region: Europe and North America

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