The main façade of the Duchess Anna Amalia Library (Herzogin-Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek – HAAB for short) is located on the Platz der Demokratie in Weimar. Originally founded in 1691 as the “Herzogliche Bibliothek” by Duke Wilhelm Ernst in Weimar, it was renamed after Duchess Anna Amalia to mark its 300th anniversary in 1991. She was responsible for moving the library from the Weimar Residential Palace to the newly furnished Rococo Hall in the former Green Palace in 1766. Today it is a research library for literary and cultural history with a special focus on German literature from the Enlightenment to the late Romantic period. It is part of the “Classical Weimar” ensemble, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
Originally known as the Green Palace, the building was erected between 1563 and 1565 as a residence for Duke Johann Wilhelm after his marriage to Countess Palatine Dorothea Susanna. For the library’s move in 1666, the master builder August Friedrich Straßburger created a library hall in the late rococo style so that the library could develop a better public profile here. From 1797 to 1832, Goethe was in charge of the library. During this time, the Goethe extension was built between the main building and the former town fortification tower in 1803-05 (on the right in the panorama).
By 1825, the former fortified tower also became part of the library under Duke Carl August. A lantern with twelve windows was added to it. The next extension was added in 1849 with the Coudray extension. The architect Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray extended the building by two further axes to create a six-axis main building (left in the panorama), strictly adhering to the formal language of the Baroque façade and also retaining the ox-eyes on the ground floor.
The library survived the turmoil of the 20th century with changes of use and shifts in the library’s focus. Unfortunately, however, there was a serious fire in 2004 in which large parts of the building and the book collection were destroyed or severely damaged. The building was completely restored by 2007 and work is still underway to save/restore the collection.