Hadrian's Library

Hadrian’s library

Hadrian’s Library, built by Emperor Hadrian, the graecophile who enriched Athens in many places with beautiful buildings such as the famous Temple of Olympian Zeus. Hadrian’s library was one of the two great libraries of Athens. The building consisted of a walled area (122 x 82 m.) with a monumental main entrance consisting of 6 Corinthian columns, of which two have been (partly) preserved (the columns still intact are the columns of the side wall), an inner garden with a pond, surrounded by 4 colonnades consisting of 100 columns. Most of the library’s walls are made of limestone. The back wall of the complex forms the back wall of the library. The actual library consisted of a number of rooms, one of which was the library itself with all niches for the scrolls. The other rooms served as study and lecture rooms.
However, the library did not last long, it was destroyed in 267 AD.  by the Herulians. After this it served as part of the Roman fortress wall. The courtyard was also used for various purposes . In the 5th century, an early Christian church was built in the center of the courtyard. This was also destroyed, and a basilica was built there in the 7th century, followed in the 11th century by the church of Megali Panaghia. During the Turkish occupation it became the seat of the Voivode (governor) and in 1835 the barracks of King Otto were built in the library. Large parts of the librarywere also damaged by fire. Fortunately, there have been several excavations over the past century, at whoch several parts of the library were restored and rebuiled.




Pausanias about the library: The best known are the Hundred Columns. The walls are of the same material as the colonnades. There are spaces with a gilded ceiling with alabaster, which are adorned with statues and murals. Books are kept there. (1.18.9)