The State Library has been housed in the New Residence since 1965, when it was moved from its former home on the Jesuit college to the Domberg. While the reading room and the compact shelving system located underneath in the former wine cellar are in the main wing, most of the library's rooms are in the east wing of the building.
The New Residence is a four-wing sandstone complex originally built in two phases for the Bamberg prince-bishops. After the first two wings were built in a Renaissance style from 1613, Johann Leonhard Dientzenhofer created two baroque wings for Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655–1729), Elector of Mainz and Bamberg Prince-Bishop, from 1697–1703: the entrance wing and the east wing known as the Lochaugassentrakt. These wings line the cathedral square, thus emphasizing its striking appearance.
The last Bamberg prince-bishop, Christoph Franz von Buseck, died in September 1805 after his abdication. Since 1803, the New Residence was owned by the Wittelsbach family, under whose rule Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806. On October 5, 1806, Napoleon signed a declaration of war against Prussia in the New Residence. On June 1st, 1815, the Residence was the scene of one of the last episodes of the Napoleonic Wars: Louis-Alexandre Berthier, a Marshal of Napoleon, was killed by defenestration out of one of the upper windows.
Since 1862, the former Greek King Otto I of Wittelsbach was exiled to Bamberg with his wife Amalie. Crown Prince Rupprecht, whose son Luitpold was born in 1901 in the King’s Apartments, resided here at the turn of the century. During the New Republic, the New Residence was the seat of the Bavarian State Government under Prime Minister Hoffmann and the state parliament from April to August 1919. The first democratic Bavarian constitution was passed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Harmonie building on Schillerplatz.
Since the 1920s, the historical rooms of the New Residence have been open to the public. The renovation of the East Wing for use by the State Library took place from 1964–65.
The East Wing, which lines the cathedral square towards the city, originally housed the prince-bishop’s administration. Two archival rooms, which are still equipped with the original shelves and chests, reflect this function and can be visited during guided tours through the historical showrooms.
The so-called Dominican Rooms, whose name derives from the bookshelves that were obtained from the Bamberg Dominican monastery, dissolved during the secularization, can also be seen only during guided tours. One of these rooms houses the Bipontina, the former library of the Duke of Wittelsbach Charles II Augustus of Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1746–1795).
The internal rooms of the State Library also comprises the old library hall on the top floor of the Vierzehnheiligen Pavilion, which bounds the East Wing at its southern end. The walls were decorated in 1843 with paintings in the Pompeian style.
Entrance Hall and Reading Room
The entrance area is open to the general public. There, valuable historical glass paintings of the 16th and 17th century are displayed, which came into the library’s possession through one of its patrons, the art historian and collector Joseph Heller (1798–1849).
The reading room, which consists of the original audience room and the former summer hall of the palace, is to the left of the entrance hall. Balthasar Neumann united the two rooms in 1731 by removing the partition wall and creating three arches. Since 1737, the current reading room was used as the court chapel. The ceiling stucco work by Johann Jakob Vogel from 1704 has been preserved. In front of the windows of the reading room lies the rose garden, which also goes back to the reign of Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn.
Scagliolasaal and Sterngewölbe
On your visit to the temporary exhibitions of the State Library you can also see the Sterngewölbe (formerly the baths) and the Scagliolasaal (originally the garden hall, later the sacristy). The name of the hall derives from the Scagliola technique used to decorate the walls: inlaid and muted blue-green stucco marble elements, including birds, insects, and floral garlands, make the room one of the most beautiful in the New Residence. The central ceiling fresco, framed by stucco tendrils, flowers, and cherubs, depicts the god Apollo on his sun chariot.