The magnificent St Ignatius Catholic Library, the Bibliotheca Zi-Ka-Wei is one of several Jesuit monuments defining historic Xújiāhuì. Established in 1847 by the local Jesuit mission, its priceless book collection in the main library (大书房; Dà Shūfáng) can only be seen by application. The collection of antiquarian tomes, arranged on one floor with a gallery above, is a rare and astonishing treasure.
Home to 560,000 volumes in Greek, Latin and other languages, the edifice consists of two buildings, with the main library itself housed in the lower, two-storey, east-facing building that partially arches over the pavement of North Caoxi Rd.
If you can gain access, wander past rare books on ecclesiastical history, Philosphica, Res Sinenses (Things Chinese) and other erudite branches of Jesuit learning. Photography is not allowed.
Visitors can access the atmospheric main reading room of the building, up the stairs on the 2nd floor between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday. Apply for an access card in advance from Shanghai Library (www.library.sh.cn) for guaranteed entry. Bags must be left in the lockers downstairs