Lonely Planet review for Biblioteca Joanina
The Old University's library, Biblioteca Joanina seems far too extravagant and distracting for actual study, with its rosewood, ebony and jacaranda tables, its gilt Chinoiserie bookshelves and elaborately frescoed ceilings. The library was a gift from João V himself in the early 18th century. Its 300,000 books, ancient and leather-bound, deal with law, philosophy and theology, though they might as well be painted onto the walls for all the hands-on study they receive now.
Visitors are admitted in small numbers and on a timetable and some rooms may be closed during degree ceremonies. The turismo might urge you to book a few days ahead, but you still may be able to get in if you front up early and are prepared to wait. The ticket office is near the Sala dos Capelos.