The Joanina Library is a library of the University of Coimbra, erected in the 18th century by King Juan V of Portugal. Located in the courtyard of the Faculty of Law, it is part of the General Library of the University of Coimbra. In other times, it was also known as the Chamber Library.
Its style is markedly Rococo, being recognized as one of the most original and spectacular European Baroque libraries. Besides being a place for research by many scholars, the space is frequently used as a concert hall, exhibitions and other cultural events.
Its construction began in 1717, outside the original Islamic urban perimeter, on the former prison of the Royal Palace, with the aim of housing the university library of Coimbra. The works were completed in 1728.
It was built according to the “Royal Project of reform of university studies”; consequence of the diffusion of the ideas of the Enlightenment in Portugal.
The master builder was João Carvalho Ferreira. The decoration was made some years later, on the eve of the Pombaline Reformation; the frescoes on the ceilings and cornices were painted by Antonio Simões Ribeiro, painter, and Vicente Nunes, gilder. The great portrait of the king is attributed to the Italian Domenico Dupri and the painting and gilding of the shelves was made by Manuel da Silva. The furniture, in exotic Brazilian and oriental woods, was executed by the carver Francesco Gualdini.