Heybeliada Seminary home to a treasure of rare, unique books

Heybeliada Seminary home to a treasure of rare, unique books

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Heybeliada Seminary home to a treasure of rare, unique books

The library is located on the ground floor of the Hagia Triada Monastery and presents more than 80,000 books to researchers. AA photos

The library of Heybeliada Seminary is home to more than 80,000 works on religion, philosophy and literature as well as some of the world’s oldest printed books.

The library, which is located on the ground floor of the Hagia Triada Monastery, which was established in the eighth century on Istanbul’s Heybeliada Island, is made up of five halls.

Recently, volunteers have been working on the classification of the works in the library. One shelf has been reserved for New Testament and Torah printings. All these old books have been protected from insects with lavender picked in the seminary garden.

Library official Yannis Ananas told Anatolia news agency that their collection had books in almost all languages, mostly English, French, Latin and old Greek. He said there were few Turkish books in the library but there were many important Ottoman magazines and books still being classified.

He said that in addition to the manuscripts, the most precious piece in the library was a copy of Aristophanes’ comedies, which was printed in 1484 and one of the world’s oldest printed works. Ananas also said the first copies of the New Testament and Torah were also important to the collection.

First seminary in Orthodox world

Hagia Triada Monastery’s archpriest and Metropolitan of Bursa Elpidophoros Lambriniadis said the library was one of the most special ones in the world. “Books that exist in our library alone form a long list,” he said.

He said that when the patriarchate opened the library in 1844, there was no other seminary in the Orthodox world. “Our school was a first in this field. This is why our library was full of precious books and manuscripts.”

Lambriniadis said the monastery library had become richer with the establishment of the school. “The world’s most valuable and important books on religion were sent and kept here. Since this place is not very safe, we keep manuscripts in the patriarchate.”

He said since he was appointed the pontiff of the monastery in September he had found some unclassified books in some depots, and volunteer students from Thessaloniki University were helping classify them. He also said they planned to carry the library to a digital platform. “We will make the whole library digital in PDF format. This is a big project; we need time. We also have to find a sponsor, too. We will be able to present our library to people through the Internet.”

Lambriniadis said most of the books in the library dated from the 18th and 19th centuries, and it one of Turkey’s treasures. He also said the library was open to researchers and students. “They come to us, look at catalogs and the books they want are brought to them.”