Alberto Belli

Alberto Belli

CEO and Content Creator of Bologna-Experience

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The Salaborsa Library and its incredible uses over the time


Do you want to know everything about the Salaborsa Library in Bologna? Come with us to discover its incredible uses over the time!

The history of the Salaborsa Library

Located inside the Palazzo d’Accursio, the historical seat of the Municipality of Bologna, the Salaborsa Library overlooks Piazza del Nettuno and St. Ugo Bassi, just behind Piazza Maggiore.

The Salaborsa Library has experienced many changes that have affected both its structure and its function.

In fact, under the pavement of the “Covered Square” it is possible to admire the archaeological finds due to the stratification of the territory by various civilizations.

From the role of Basilica of the city at the time of the Roman occupation, to the headquarters of the troops that guarded the Town Hall, the function of Salaborsa changed multiple times.

An interesting curiosity concerns its name: it derives from the role that this building has played after the creation of the Committee led by well-knwn Bolognese entrepreneurs. In fact, the Salaborsa has represented for many years the central place of the economic life in Bologna, where stock exchange transactions, market operations and trade took place.

Later on, after the World War II and until the 1960s, the Salaborsa became a modern sports building, which hosted basketball matches and even boxing matches.

Did you know about the inner garden?

For many centuries, in the current Salaborsa Library, there was an internal garden or viridarium.

Under the administration of the Apostolic Vicars, the garden of the palace was built next to the stables and, later on, it turned into the Botanical Garden thanks to Ulisse Aldrovandi.

In this Botanical Garden, he grew various medicinal herbs and exotic plants from all over the world, from Africa to Asia and America.

Aldrovandi’s research and experimentations also contributed to the creation of modern botany.

The Botanical Garden was one of the oldest gardens in Europe, but it was then transferred to Via San Giuliano, near the Palazzina della Viola in San Donato district, where it is still possible to visit it.

Do you know that Ulisse Aldrovandi was one of the first students of the Alma Mater Studiorum of Bologna? Come and read the history of the oldest university in the Western world!

The Salaborsa Library

At the launch of the project of the Urban Park of Piazza Maggiore, the municipal administration decided to create in this square a cultural city center (which includes the Morandi Museum, The Municipal Art Collections and the Archaeological Civic Museum besides the Salaborsa Library).

If you want to know more about Bologna.’s museums, read our article Museums in Bologna: a must-seen heritage.

It is therefore in 1999 that the “Covered Square” will finally be transformed into the Salaborsa Library.

The peculiarities of the Salaborsa Library concern both its aesthetics and its collection.

The modernist-style glass and iron interior makes the building one of a kind and the documentation it offers includes not only books and newspapers, but also comics, CDs, maps, audiobooks and much more.

Inside the Salaborsa Library it is possible to admire the remains of the ancient stratifications (and even walk on them) thanks to the crystal floor and, for the students, there are also two study halls (one for the youngest ones and one for university students).

In addition to that, the Salaborsa Library hosts many cultural initiatives, such as exhibitions and meetings.

Interior Library Exchange Hall. Covered square dedicated to Umberto Eco in 2016.

In 2016 the covered square of the Salaborsa was dedicated to Umberto Eco, semiotic, essayist and famous professor of the University of Bologna. For Eco was the library the union of study, ideas, meeting points, books and communication, the strength and success of Bologna as a university and cultural city. These are the same characteristics that can be found in the covered square of Salaborsa.

The Monument to Fallen Partisans

In Piazza del Nettuno, right next to the wall of the Salaborsa Library, you can see the Monument to Fallen Partisans.

Built after the Nazi-fascist occupation during World War II, there are hundreds of images hanging on the wall of young partisans who fell during the fight for the liberation. 

In fact, during the summer of 1944, the fascists carried out numerous public shootings, leaving exposed the corpses of some partisans right next to the current entrance of the Salaborsa Library, as a “warning” to all those who intended to rebel.

Partisan Shrine. Photos of young partisans who fell for liberation during World War II.

After the liberation, in 1945, the inhabitants of Bologna began to bring photographs and flowers to this place in honor of the fallen ones and, later on, the municipal administration provided for the construction of this Memorial monument to partisans.

The steps of the Salaborsa Library

One last curiosity about the Salaborsa Library concerns its staircase.

Exterior of the Sala Borsa Library in Bologna, with the steps and partisan shrine visible.

Many people know that Bologna is famous for its Seven Secrets, places and objects scattered throughout the city that are shrouded in a halo of mystery.

One of these secrets concerns the statue of Neptune, or rather, his hand: if you position yourself at a particular angle, his finger will give the impression of being his erection.

Next to the staircase of the Salaborsa Library you can notice a dark tile, the so-called Stone of Shame, where this game of perspective takes place.

If you want to find out the Seven Secrets of Bologna, check out the article A journey through the Seven Secrets of Bologna.

When can I visit the Salaborsa Library?

The Salaborsa Library is a real multimedia library; it offers resources also available remotely through the official website, which allows to combine history and modernity, tradition and innovation.

What are you waiting for? Visit the Salaborsa Library now!

The Salaborsa Library opens from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 8 pm and the visit is completely free.

The Salaborsa Library is located in an area full of monuments and churches to visit. If you are here you cannot miss the imposing Cathedral of San Pietro. Finally you will not fail to notice the Two Towers at the end of Via Rizzoli; and a few meters from the two twin symbols of the city, you can also visit the ancient Jewish ghetto, located right in the heart of Bologna. What are you waiting for? Immerse yourself in the small and narrow coloured streets of this area, so full of history and memory. Then, after the various visits you can enjoy a good lunch of the Bolognese tradition! In this regard we point out some of the best taverns and trattorias in the city: the Restaurant I Carracci and the Osteria dell’Orsa. If you are looking for a nice place to have an aperitif, take a tour of the Quadrilateral Market or discover other places in our article Bologna to drink.


  • Benevolo G., La fontana del Nettuno: Bologna, Bologna, Scripta maneant, 2018
  • Costa T., Bologna dalla A alla Z, Bologna, Costa Editore, 2011
  • Foschi P., Poli M., La Sala Borsa di Bologna, Bologna, Editrice Compositori, 2004


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