AAA Editor Notes
Palafox Library (Biblioteca Palafoxiana) is on the second floor of the House of Culture, 1 blk. s. of the Zócalo at Av. 5 Oriente #5. Founded in 1646 and believed to be the first public library established in the Americas, it contains some 45,000 books, most of them priceless bound Latin manuscripts. Other valuable tomes include a 1584 atlas printed in Antwerp, Belgium, and a 16th-century Bible in four languages. The library's contents were digitally catalogued in 2010, a process that took 5 years of work and required a team of 30 specialists.
The library is named for Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, a Catholic priest and the bishop of Puebla from 1640 to 1655. The main reason to see it is for the room's ornate beauty. Just 20 feet wide but more than 200 feet long, it's lined with exquisitely carved cedar bookshelves, protected by wire, that rise in three tiers above the worn red-tile floors. At the far end stands a three-story gold altar featuring an oil painting of the Virgin of Trapani.
Photography is not permitted.