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In a series of articles we will introduce you to the most exciting places of Budapest – libraries, museums, archives, music halls and other famous sites. Joins us on our virtual tour through the Hungarian capital. Today we will invite you to a virtual tour on: The Library of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.
Published on 07 March 2016

For the first time ever ...

... the Hungarian rare book dealers invite colleagues and collectors from across the world to Budapest. The 42nd ILAB Congress and 26th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair from 21 to 25 September 2016 will present Budapest as one of the most beautiful cities and one of the most fascinating book capitals in Europe.

Dear Colleagues,

Before the First International ILAB Congress and Fair in Budapest in September, we would like you to have a glimpse into its programme. First of all, we have prepared a brief series on the most prestigious libraries of Budapest.

The Library of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest is one of the oldest public libraries in Hungary. The origins go back to a Jesuite college's library founded in 1561. The Eötvös Loránd University itself was founded by Péter Pázmány, the Primate of Hungary, in Nagyszombat (now Trnava, Slovakia) in the year 1635. It is the most prestigious university with the richest traditions and the highest international rankings in Hungary, where tradition and innovation go hand-in-hand according to its motto given by the Hungarian physicist Loránd Eötvös, after whom the university was named: “Let us learn from each other, so that we may teach better!” After the dissolution of the Jesuit order, both the Eötvös Loránd University and its library with more than 15000 volumes moved to Buda in 1777, and in 1784 to Pest. The library building is an architectural gem, especially the famous reading room with frescoes and wall-paintings by Charles Lotz.

The library collection has been continually expanded for the past 450 years. Nowadays, the Eötvös Loránd University Library holds more than 3,6 million books and periodicals, among them 185 codices and bibliophile treasures such as 14 codices of the Bibliotheca Corviniana, Dante codex from the early 1340s, a Greek Gospel compiled in Constantinople in the 10th century, 1150 incunabula and 2600 ancient Hungarian printed books published before 1711. Further on there are 9600 books printed in 16th century, almost 11000 books and prints from the 17th century books and over 45000 eighteenth century volumes.

Manuscript and Incunabula Collections

The oldest manuscript held at Eötvös Loránd University Library is an 8th century Beda fragment. The exquisite autograph and manuscript collection is centered around the Diplomatarium Autographum (abbreviated as Dipl. Aut.) consisting of 52 single-page manuscripts on parchment and the Litterae et Epistolae Originales (abbreviated as LEO) both originating from the collection of György Pray (1723-1801). Pray had studied in Bratislava and joined the Society of Jesus in 1745. With the suppression of the Jesuits in Hungary around 1773, Pray was appointed Imperial Historian by the Austrian Empress Maria Theresia. When the University of Nagyszombat was transferred to Buda in 1777, he became chief librarian. Only a few years later he donated his collection of manuscripts and historical documents to the library. Other manuscript collections of Jesuit historians like Gábor Hevenesi (1656-1715) and István Kaprinay (1714-1786) were also been given to the library at that time.

Incunabula, Rariora Hungarica and other Collections

Eötvös Loránd University Library owns the third most significant incunabula collection in Hungary with over a thousand items. The Rariora Hungarica Collection holds rare and particularly valuable Hungarian prints published after 1711. Together with the rich collection of maps, prints, broadsides and illustrated books it is a world-famous part of Budapest University Library. The Department of Maps and Prints includes portraits and a mixture of landscapes, panoramas and pictures of buildings and towns – both with printed and manuscript maps and views. Another highly interesting part of Eötvös Loránd University Library is dedicated to ephemera, miscellanea and to the history of political parties. The collection of pamphlets and publications of the Hungarian Soviet Republic (Tanácsköztársaság) is an impressive historical documentation of the a decisive period in the history of 20th century Eastern Europe.

42nd ILAB Congress

26th International Antiquarian Book Fair

Budapest, Hungary

21 – 25 September 2016

>> To register online and for more information please visit the official website.

>> For any further questions please contact the organizer at

(Pictures: ILAB, Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of Hungary, MAE)

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