Admont Abbey - the world's largest monastery library © Stefan Leitner


The world-renowned Admont Abbey Library is located in the east wing of the monastery building. It is accessible via the museum on the first floor of the south wing. With a length of 70 meters, a width of 14 meters, and a height of 11 meters (12.7 meters in the central dome), this room is the largest monastic library hall in the world.

IMG 4321 D5 scaled

The eighth Wonder of the World ‒ Admont Abbey library

In the past, this hall has also been referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The combination of its immense dimensions, architectural structure, book collection, and artistic embellishments creates a timeless and breathtaking effect.

In older literature, the architect of the Admont Abbey Library was mistakenly identified as the builder Gotthard Hayberger from Steyr. However, according to current research, the architect responsible for planning the library hall and overseeing its construction was Josef Hueber, who was born in Vienna and primarily active in Styria. He took inspiration from the magnificent building of the imperial Court Library (now the National Library) in Vienna, completed by 1726.

Hueber also divided the Admont Hall into three compartments: a central, longitudinally oval dome room, and two side annexed wing halls. Each of the two wing halls is spanned by elongated Platzl vaults in three bays. Thus, the entire elongated grand hall is vaulted by a total of 7 domes. It spans two floors and is illuminated by 48 windows.

The central dome room is emphasized by twelve vault-bearing columns made of reddish marble, which provide a vertical accent. There is no gallery present, directing attention to the central dome fresco, which is essential to the library's theme (all ceiling paintings are by Bartolomeo Altomonte). The fresco depicts divine revelation, focusing on the personification of divine wisdom.

In the two long side halls, a gallery supported by consoles runs along. This emphasizes the two-story structure and reduces the height of the domes. Integral to the spatial impression are the two-story bookcases. In the corners of all the subspaces, these cabinets are rounded. This spatial solution, which anticipates the Empire style, conceals 12 of the total 60 windows. Behind each pair of inner corner cabinets in the wing halls, spiral staircases lead to the surrounding gallery on the upper floor at four points of the library.

The "secret" doors of Admont library

Imitating real book spines, these doors, which are not recognizable as such, maintain the cohesive impression of the space. Visitors often refer to them as "the secret doors" of the Admont Library.

The Admont Library was planned around 1765, with construction likely completed by 1773. Consequently, its interior architecture notably differs from older library halls and other monastery libraries of the 18th century. The difference is particularly evident in the color scheme and lighting. The numerous windows already provide ample brightness. Unlike the warm brown tones of earlier libraries, the Admont bookcases are executed in white with sparing gold embellishments. This reflects both Rococo style elements and the intellectual currents of the time: the Age of Enlightenment.

The spirit of enlightenment is naturally palpable not only in the book collection and artworks but also on the floor of the hall. Over 7,000 diamond-shaped stones made of white, red, and gray marble are ingeniously arranged throughout the library to form geometric patterns. Depending on one's subjective perception, bands, zigzag lines, cubes, or seemingly spatial stepped structures can be discerned.

Admont Abbey - the world's largest monastery library © Stefan Leitner
Admont Abbey Library Marcel Peda 1
Library c Stefan Leitner small
Admont Abbey - Library at night © Thomas Sattler
Admont Abbey Library Marcel Peda 2