Patriarchal Library of Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA – After total refurbishment, the Patriarchal Library of Alexandria is ready to become an educational and research center of international scope. The National Bank of Greece has funded an ultramodern library, housed in the same mansion as the Patriarchate of Alexandria, next to the Church of the Annunciation and close by the city’s crowded marketplace. Within the colonnade of the Patriarchate there is a sense of moderation, tranquillity and harmony in the neoclassical air of the facades overlooking the garden. Greeks from Egypt, Greek visitors from Greece, Orthodox Arabs and African theology students came together to the sound of lively music that preceded and followed the inauguration last Friday. The library has acquired attractive, functional spaces, designed by the renowned Egyptian architect Mohammed Awad. The interior, with a pleasing aroma of new wood and leather, houses 40,000 items, 7,000 of which are rare editions from 1460 to 1800. There is a growing collection of some 600 manuscripts dating as far back as the 10th century, and one earlier manuscript from the sixth century. Agamemnon Tselikas, head of the Paleography Department of the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation, explained that the Patriarchal Library is now ready to undertake digitization, conservation, education and collaborations and make overtures to the world. «It’s important that Aristotle and scripture, the tragedies of Euripides and the work of Grigorios Nyssis are together,» commented Tselikas. Apart from its practical importance, the inauguration, conducted by Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria, was redolent with symbolism in a city where Greeks seek ways of enhancing their presence and which has always been identified with the concept of a library.