Biblioteca Estense

Biblioteca Estense

The Estense Library has a collection that includes printed books, incunabula and a large assortment of illuminated manuscripts from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The centrepiece is the Bible that belonged to Borso d’Este, a 15th-century masterwork of illuminated miniature of the Ferrara School.

The Dynasty Library, created by the lords of Ferrara at the end of the 14th century, remains closely linked to the House of Este the dissolution of the duchy and the unification of Italy (1860).

Transferred in 1882 to the current headquarters of Palazzo dei Musei as a national library, since 2016 it is part of the new Gallerie Estensi institute.

The library collection of the House of Este started at the same time as the princely family and has always followed its vicissitudes. Made up of a remarkable number of miniatures and works of literary, historic and artistic interest since the period of the Marquis Niccolò III, it was then embellished by the Italian Renaissance splendour of Leonello, Borso, Hercules and Alfonso, who added a large number of manuscripts and fine printed editions.

Over the following centuries, the prestigious role of librarian was held by the great scholars Lodovico Antonio Muratori and Girolamo Tiraboschi, who acquired the most important printed publications and the most valuable manuscripts on the European market.

In 1764, Francis d'Este III opened the library to the public. After the unification of Italy, it was merged with the University Library to form what is today the Estense University Library.
The most valuable materials preserved in the library include the Monumenta of Estense miniatures, the Bible of Borso, the Genealogy of the Princes of Este, the Missal of Borso, the Breviary of Hercules, the Obizzi collection of Catajo, the maps of the Muratori and Tiraboschi.

The Estense University Library has a single exhibition room, the Sala Campori, which houses the permanent display of illuminated codices.


For timetables and how to visit the Library and to consult texts, please visit:

Opening hours

Check the timetable of the Estense University Library, on their web site.

Tickets and admission

Free entrance.

To know before you go

Guided tours:

By contacting the Library at +39(0)59/4395711 or by sending an e-mail to you can request and book a free guided tour for groups and secondary school grade.