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    Posted April 14, 2014 by
    Budapest, Hungary
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
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    A Hidden Gem in the heart of Budapest: the Eötvös Loránd University Library


    Among the cluster of historical buildings at Ferenciek tere, in the heart of Budapest, you will find a pair of giant wooden doors, through which you will walk into a dimly-lit vaulted reception hall. Follow the spiral staircase and pass the crafted light posts, you will find yourself standing in front of another wooden door, usually semi-open. So far the interior of this building is simple but solemn, as if it was deigned to make visitors feel compelled to reflect in silence. It is so quite that probably the only thing you have heard is the echo of your steps as you made your way up the stairs.


    Now stretch out your arm, push open the door and step inside. Here it is, the glorious Main Reading Room! A striking contrast to the simplistic architecture outside, the reading room is richly decorated with frescoes and wall paintings of Lotz Károly, one of the greatest Hungarian fresco painters, whose works can also be found in the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian Parliament Building. The light comes through the high ceiling and brightens up the room. The air is filled with the smell of ancient books. During the examination season, the room is usually occupied by the university students, revising for their battles. Most of the time throughout the year, the reading room sees only a handful of users and visitors daily.


    Like other public libraries, the Eötvös Loránd University Library is open to public, but many people tend to walk past its humble doors without realising they have missed out a hidden gem.


    The Library’s origin can be traced to a Jesuit college's library founded in 1561. Its physical sites, together with its collections, have since moved from one place to another: during 17th century the library was in Nagyszombat (now Trnava, Slovakia); then it was moved to Buda in 1777, and in 1784 to Pest. The current library building was erected between 1873-76, as the first in Hungary to open to the public.


    After relaxing in one of the many surrounding cafes, a visit to this palace-like library would certainly refresh the mind!

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