As one of over ten buildings, residences, and properties making up what is called “Classic Weimar”, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library (Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
To consolidate her love of books into a larger holding space, Duchess Anna Amalia commissioned in 1761 the State Architect to rebuild and convert the Renaissance-style French (Green) Castle into a library. Becoming one of the most important libraries in the country, the collections included some of the finest written and produced in German literature, art and culture, history, and architecture. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe himself was Library Director between 1797 and 1832.
The library has had its fair share of names: initially called the Ducal Library (Herzogliche Bibliothek); in 1815 renamed as the Grand Ducal Library (Großherzoglichen Bibliothek); in 1918 renamed as the Thuringia State Library (Thüringische Landesbibliothek); in 1969 renamed as the Central Library of German Classics (Zentralbibliothek der deutschen Klassik); and in 1991, renamed as Duchess Anna Amalia Library (Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek) in honour of the library’s founder.
An electrical short from aging damaged wiring sparked a fire on 2 September 2004; the fire held on for over two days before the final hotspot was put out. Over 100 thousand books were damaged or destroyed by fire, water, and smoke. The fire was the largest to strike a German library in post-war history. Subsequent donations and volunteers poured into Weimar from throughout Germany and Europe to help with rescue and preservation efforts. After conclusion of extensive restoration work to the building, the interior Rococo Hall, and to thousands of rescued books, the library was reopened on 24 October 2007, the birthday of the library’s namesake (Anna Amalia born 24 October 1739).
Dear guests, entry into the Rococo Hall of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library is limited to about 250 visitors each day in order to protect the active memorial site. As interest far exceeds capacity, an advance reservation or booking is recommended. Provisional daily sales of about 50 tickets for individual visitors are available daily at 9am in person at the library with a maximum of 4 tickets per person. The ticket counter/cash desk is open Tuesdays to Sundays 9am to 230pm.
(any mistakes from translation are mine.)
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar is open Tuesdays to Sundays between 9am and 5pm. The Rococo Hall is open to most visitors from 930am to 230pm, and open to registered groups from 3pm to 5pm. Admission is €7.50 (as of January 2015). Advance reservations are strongly recommended. The library is located in the compact inner town which is easily navigable on foot. With public transport, buses 1, 5, 6, and 8 stop at Wielandplatz, minutes on foot from the Anna Amalia Library, the Goethe-Nationalmuseum, Schillers Wohnhaus, Markt, and Theaterplatz.
Students and researchers at the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst (University of Applied Sciences and Arts) in Hildesheim continue to play an active and significant role in the conservation and restoration of library books, particularly after the Weimar fire.