Santiago Day 4: Started the day with a bit more culture.. at the Biblioteca Nacional one of the oldest institutions in Chile. In August 1813 it was announced that a library would be established and citizens were invited to submit their books. In 1820 a law was passed requiring all printers to provide a copy of every book, magazine or newspaper published. The regulation was updated in 1834 to the Law of Literary Property.
Construction of the current building started in 1913 and was completed in 1925. It is French neoclassical style and the interior is gorgeously embellished and decorated with carved marble staircases, lovely leadlight glass, sculptures and paintings:.
and a large exhibition called: The Memory that Unites Us: An invitation to reconstruct the history of the National Library of Chile. It was set up on wooden grids to give the impression of an unfinished building and is meant to portray that the history of Chile continues to happen every day and is opened ended. The exhibition examines the evolution of the country and the institution through publications and materials from the library’s own collection. .
The American room was stunning. The library collection of famous bibliophile José Toribio Medina was donated to the National Library. There are 33,000 titles including rare nautical, geographical and demographic books of discovery, dictionaries of indigenous languages as well as important historiographical, literary and scientific texts and they are all housed in this beautiful room..
The library also holds sets of works, manuscripts, photographs, unpublished works, personal belongings and sound recordings of Chilean writers including Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro and Joaquin Edwards Bello. The library has an Oral Archive of Literature and Folklore of Chilean popular culture; songs, poetry, stories, folk religion, customs, cuisine and medicine.
I would’ve loved to have explored the library more as there were nooks & crannies we did not get to but it was time to head off to the next thing on my list. We stopped to admire the statue of Diego Barros Arana (1830-1907) on the way past. A writer, historian and politician he is considered by some to be the most important Chilean historian. His main work is a 15 volume work spanning 300 years of Chilean history called: Historia Jeneral de Chile.