I have spent plenty of my time in lecture halls/rooms on a college campus since I teach, but I teach at an institution that is barely older than I am (and no, I am not that old). So the buildings are nothing exciting – they are clean, they are practical, and they do their job, but they are definitely not memorable or give the impression that one is at a special place of learning. It is of course unfair to compare a college barely out of its infancy to the oldest university in the Western world, Bologna, but it is hard not to.
The University of Bologna was founded in 1088 and was home to some very famous students such as Erasmus and Copernicus. The schools and venues of the university were scattered across town, but in the mid-16th century, the Palazzo dell’ Archiginnasio became the first permanent seat of the university until 1803 (when it moved to Via Zamboni, where it is still today).
Today, the Teatro Anatomico is a big tourist attraction, but oh, how exciting it would be to teach in this classroom (even though I do not teach biology, medicine, or dissection). The building was damaged during WWII but was rebuilt with mostly original materials it seems.
Teatro Anatomico is the lecture hall for human dissections in oldest university in Europe.
Teatro Anatomico is the lecture hall where the first human dissections in Europe took place.
The professors’ chair in the lecture hall for human dissections.
The canopy of the professors’ chair is supported by a depiction of a skinned cadaver.
Another lecture hall in the same building is Sala dello Stabat Mater; it is still used for talks and lectures today, and old decorations clash with modern chairs, screen, and projector.
Walls are adorned in the Sala della Stabat Mater lecture hall.
Salla dello Stabat Mater – a former lecture hall in the first permanent seat of Europe’s oldest university.
The palazzo is also home to the city library, Biblioteca Comunale, which is really a working library and does not allow entry to tourists but only to serious library users.
Biblioteca Communale (City Library) in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio with 800,000 works
Close-up of the books in Biblioteca Communale.
Page of the medical book by Lucantonio Giunta from the mid-sixteenth century on how to take care of fractures.
Just across the square Piazza Maggiore is another gorgeous library that is just a “normal” city library used by residents. Biblioteca Salaborsa is a gorgeous, multi-story building in Art Nouveau style; it was once a botanical garden, military training ground, basketball court, and the Stock Exchange.
Biblioteca Salaborsa inside the former Stock Exchange in Art Nouveau style
It was built on Roman and medieval structures, which can be viewed through the glass floor of the library or walked through on the lower level.
The glass floor of the Biblioteca Salaborsa shows excavations of medieval and Roman settlements.
I love libraries anyway, but these environments are even more exciting. I wonder if students or library users are/were inspired by the environment or whether it was just another building to be in to reach one’s goal.