SĂ©lestat Humanist Library – Visit the museum

by | Updated on 10/11/2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

I discovered for the first time the Humanist Library of SĂ©lestat, a beautiful place founded in 1452 and reopened in November 2018 after extensive renovation. We followed the guided tour and I advise you to do the same, to discover this magnificent building and its no less magnificent collection with a passionate person!

Why a humanist library in the city of SĂ©lestat?

The library houses a museum that allows you to immerse yourself in the history of the Renaissance by following in the footsteps of the famous Selestadian humanist Beatus Rhenanus, who was responsible for the creation of the Humanist Library, as he bequeathed his incredible personal library to his native town of Selestat upon his death.

With its 423 volumes, containing 1,287 works and 41 manuscripts in various collections, as well as 33 early manuscripts and 255 autograph letters, this collection was one of the richest and most beautiful collections of its time! It is the “treasure” of the Humanist Library of Selestat, and has earned the library a place on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

The architecture of the Humanist Library by Ricciotti

The visit of the Humanist Library begins with some explanations about the architecture of the library, which used to be a wheat market and is now one of the emblematic buildings of the city of SĂ©lestat. The architect Rudy Ricciotti designed the current building. Personally, I like the different spaces or the twisted Vosges sandstone columns on the outside, but I’m less fond of the metal bars upstairs, although I admit that representing a nave is a nice idea (Why a nave? Come and find out!).

The books, treasures of the Humanist Library’s exhibitions

We then go to the second floor where the books are exposed, in a completely open space but delimited in several parts dedicated to different themes, including the “treasure” under glass. We start with a small context around a very nice model of Selestat, which allows to visualize what the city looked like at the time and to highlight the places linked to the history of the library: for example the Latin School where Beatus Rhenanus studied.

The books are beautiful, displayed with great care: held at a certain angle so as not to damage them, without too much humidity, nor too much light. A rotation system is in place that allows visitors to regularly discover new works. I learned a lot about books, such as the purpose of their thick covers and big clasps to keep them in shape, or the different types of “paper”: for example, vellum (stillborn calf skin) or rag paper (made of textiles). Or that people bound their own books to save money and that several books were sometimes “under the same cover”.

The plus of this guided tour of the Humanist Library is also the anecdotes. I remember two of them: Erasmus who said that when he had money he would first buy a book, then food and then clothes! Or that Beatus Rhenanus placed in his books a bookplate saying: “I belong to Beatus Rhenanus and I do not change my master”, just to remind the one who had borrowed it to give it back!

It’s hard to say in one article everything I learned, or to talk about all the wonderful books I saw – but this place is really superb, a real mine of information to discover – especially for book lovers eager to discover the secrets of exceptional works. The large touch screens allow you to virtually browse through the works on display. I find it a great way to see the most interesting pages, m

I liked

  • the guided tour
  • the books and everything they tell
  • touch screens that allow you to learn more
  • the temporary exhibition rooms on the first floor to wait for the visit
  • included in the Alsace Pass!

I liked less

  • some particularities of the architecture, nothing to do with the collection!

My photos of the Humanist Library of Selestat

Practical information

Rates and schedules

Here you’ll find the opening hours and prices of the Humanist Library Museum. The visit is free with the Pass Alsace.


Click here for information on guided toursof the Humanist Library.


By car

The address is as follows: Humanist Library 1 place Dr Maurice Kubler 67600 SĂ©lestat. You have to count:

  • 25 km from Colmar (about 30 minutes)
  • 50 km from Strasbourg (about 40 minutes)
  • 67 km from Mulhouse (about 50 minutes)
By public transport

Just take the train to the SĂ©lestat train station and walk for a few minutes. You can calculate your route on Fluo.

A little hungry on the way out?

Don’t hesitate to go to one of the delicious tea rooms in SĂ©lestat.



Charlotte aime sortir, se retrouver autour d'un verre ou d'un bon plat avec ses amis, et se balader ! Le dimanche, c'est journée "randonnée" à la découverte des circuits pédestres Alsaciens. Sur les hauteurs ou dans les champs, il y a de quoi faire dans notre belle région !


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