The mind of a bookworm
09.06.2013 - 09.06.2013
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It was a cold, gloomy Sunday as I made my way to St Gallen. My goal on this day - Abbey of St Gall. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also houses the famous Abbey Library - one of the oldest and most beautiful monastic library in the world.
The entire site was huge. I first went into the cathedral. Its interior left me dumbstruck! Not that I had anyone to talk to, mind you, but it's just amazing to see the ceiling's frescoes and the altar and....basically everything inside. The baroque style architecture was just opulent!
Some photos around the open area
And the library - I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I found out that cameras were not allowed inside. There was this big lady guard (imagine Miss Trunchbull from the novel Matilda) who's sharp eyes missed nothing. She was shadowing my every move simply because I was the only solo traveler and without a tour guide! Grrrrrrr.......
But just so you know how the interior of the library look like, here a photo of a postcard I bought (This really is the REAL thing. Not a painting or whatnot).
Seriously, it was AMAZING. Never mind what I saw before and what I will see from then on, the Abbey Library will forever be entrenched in my mind on how truly beautiful a library could be.
I knew beforehand by looking at photos online - but those photos looked so unrealistic, that I felt it had to be photoshopped. But NO - the library REALLY looked as in the photos. One thing that surprised me though, was how small the library actually was. Considering that it house more than 100,000 books, I had imagined it to be bigger. But if I am not wrong, I believe there is actually another library (the more modern one) where people can actually loan the books out. This particular library is more for "display" purposes. Below is a direct quote from swissinfo.ch :
But only 30,000 of the library's collection – books and manuscripts – can be seen. Some volumes are considered simply too precious to be shown in public.
"There are 400 books here that are more than 1,000 years old," Karl Schmuki, the library's deputy director, told swissinfo.ch.
Ancient treasures include a Latin manuscript of the Gospel and the oldest book in German.
During my visit, the exhibition on display in the library was of some of the oldest bible manuscripts known to mankind. It was pretty amazing to see words written more than a thousand years ago.
I spent nearly 3 hours in this area and by the time I was ready to leave, it appeared to be slightly drizzling. As my one and only plan was to visit the Abbey, I had no idea what to do next. A nice lady at the info centre informed me that Lake Constance nearby is beautiful, but it's not much of a view on this rainy and foggy day. Another choice was to take the Mühleggbahn (furnicular) and just wander around. I chose the latter.
Going up the Mühleggbahn, I reached a higher point of St Gallen. Here, the sun was out again and basically, from this point on, I wandered aimlessly. I just know it must be a local spot as there was absolutely not a single tourist to be found (unlike at the Abbey). This place seems to be a hit with families as there are lakes to swim in, beautiful hiking trails, and a perfect setting for a lovely picnic.
I've gotten really lost by this time, as I simply hiked into the sort-of-forest trail, out of it, and started my way downwards. But it was a wonderful way to spend a day out in the open. I could not find the Mühlegg station again, and literally had to walk all the way down until I saw a bus stop.
On my way, I saw plenty of standalone houses with gardens that were bursting with flowers. One thing I noticed about Swiss houses - they are all very individualistic. It is a totally different concept from me who lives in the suburban area where one house is similarly built as the next.
All in all, a perfect Sunday.
(None of my friends wanted to join me on this excursion, leading to the great question - why would you want to go to the library?)