Palafoxian Library in the beautiful city of Puebla

Bishop Palafox y Mendoza dedicated his collection of 5,000 volumes to the seminarians of the Tridentine institutions on September 5, 1646, making it the first public library on the American continent. Since then, it's been in Puebla's Colegio de San Juan.

Palafoxian Library in the beautiful city of Puebla
City of Puebla's Palafoxian Library. Credit: Museos Puebla

The Palafoxiana Library is a historical and cultural treasure. It has one of the largest collections of knowledge from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, which is more than 40 thousand volumes: 25,867 books, 5,396 manuscripts, and 2731 loose printed books, many of which were written before 1501. It has been beautifully fixed up, and the shelves from the 18th century are still there.

The precinct is named after Don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who was the Bishop of Puebla de los Angeles and the 18th Viceroy of New Spain from June 10 to November 23, 1642. In 1646, this nobleman gave 5,000 books from his library to the San Juan College Seminary. However, there was one condition: the books had to be available not just to scholars but to anyone who could read. So, the first public library on the American continent was set up.

Bishop Francisco Fabián y Fuero ordered the beautiful bookcase made of cedar, pine, ayacahuite, and coloyote in 1773 to hold the growing collection. In the 1800s, another level of shelves was added.

The Puebla House of Culture is now in the old convent of San Juan. The Palafoxiana Library is still on the top floor, in the same large vaulted room where it was when it was first built. The central part of the room is dominated by a painting of the Madonna of Trapani by the Sicilian artist Nino Pisano.

The library has won several awards. In 1981, the Mexican government named it a Historic Monument, and in 2005, UNESCO put it on its Memory of the World List. In 2010, the library's collection was added to a digital catalog.

5 Oriente 5, Col. Centro Histórico, 72000 Puebla
Tuesday to Thursday / Friday to Sunday
10:00 to 17:00 hrs. / 10:00 to 18:00 hrs.