Library and Archive, São Bento Palace

The Passos Manuel Library, as it became known in October 2017, is a specialized library, whose main objective is to provide bibliographic support for parliamentary works, through the acquisition, management and dissemination of national and international scientific and technical information, as well as information produced by the media.

Access is also allowed to all citizens who need to consult information that is not available in other libraries and documentation services, namely parliamentary information.

Located on the Noble Floor of the São Bento Palace, the Passos Manuel Library occupies four rooms in the space where the monks of the former monks of the São Bento da Saúde Monastery were once installed. Its origin goes back to the old Library of Cortes, created in 1836 by decree of Minister Manuel da Silva Passos for the service of the Legislative Body, initially located in the former choir of the Benedictine church (current Salão Nobre). It then gathered around 7,300 volumes from the General Deposit of the Bookstores of Extinct Convents, created in 1834.

In 1921, with the approval of the library-economic organization plan, its definitive installation in the place where it is today was determined. However, only in 1936, already during the Estado Novo and with the designation of Library of the National Assembly, it was designed by Adolfo Marques da Silva and furnished with shelves on two floors with access galleries, reading tables and oak wooden chairs, trying to recreate the atmosphere of a Renaissance convent library.

After the Revolution of April 25, 1974, the Library was renamed the Library of the Assembly of the Republic, and the furniture was remodeled, of which some pieces are still kept in the main room. In the center of the room is the bust of Passos Manuel, sculpted by Anatole Calmels.

In 2017, it became known as Biblioteca Passos Manuel.

Its collection has more than 180,000 volumes, most of which are related to parliamentary activity, and the rest on Law, Political Science, History, Economics, Statistics and texts from international organizations. The Library also has an old background of reserved documents, where specimens from the 16th to the 18th centuries are preserved.

The Library was created in 1836 with a fund of 7300 volumes. A century later it had 23,000, comprising some important collections of Portuguese parliamentary documents.

Since 1974, the services of the Library have been restructured in order to cover all matters of parliamentary interest (Law, Politics, Economics, Science and Technology, Social Life, Public Administration, Statistics), making management and dissemination of the following documentary cores:

Old Book Nucleus (1491-1800) – +/- 5000 volumes. This collection is made up of true typographic priests, which come from the old Biblioteca das Cortes, from a set of 1581 titles, of which the existence of two incunabula stands out. (Old book 1491-1800)
Monographs – The monograph collection consists of approximately 50,000 volumes and is organized in chronological order by date of publication. The most recent publications (last 4 years) are organized according to the Eurovoc thesaurus classes, allowing users free access.
Periodical publications – The Library has 3300 magazine titles, of which about one third are finished publications, with a dimension greater than 100,000 volumes. The modern core of these publications is organized according to the origin of the publications, thus constituting the collections of Portuguese and foreign magazines, international organizations, European institutions and national statistics.
National legislation and collections of laws – The Library has all national legislation from the “Manueline Ordinations” and “Afonsinas” to the present day, constituting a fund with about 3000 bound volumes.
Diaries of the Assembly of the Republic and other official publications – This collection consists of the Constituent Assembly’s Diary and all the series of the Assembly of the Republic ‘s Diary since 1975 ( previous Diaries are in the Parliamentary Historical Archive) and all publications edited by the Assembly of the Republic.
Official Journals of the European Communities – This collection contains all the Official Journals of the European Communities, since 1985.

The Library of the Assembly of the Republic is a specialized library, whose main objective is to provide bibliographic support for parliamentary works.

The catalog consists of bibliographic references of all documents acquired by the Library since its creation in 1836, with an initial collection of approximately 7300 volumes, from the General Deposit of the Bookstores of the Extinct Convents, comprising the following sources: Livraria de Alcobaça, Frei Jacinto de S. Miguel’s Private Bookstore, Valbom Community, Belém Community, D. Symeonis Hay du Chastelet’s Bookstore, Diogo Cardoso de Almeida’s Bookstore, Marqueses de Arronches Bookstore, Borges de Azevedo Bookstore and Livraria dos Condes Bookstore Miranda.

Among the various collections that make up the Library of the Assembly of the Republic, the Library of Barão de S. Clemente stands out, which was acquired in 1893 for the Library of Cortes.

Today, the Library’s catalog contains 119,000 bibliographic references, namely 50,000 monograph records, 3,300 serial publications and 66,000 journal article records, in the areas of Law, History, Economics, Sociology, Statistics and documentation from the institutions of the European Union and international organizations.

On the Royal Legislation Portal the “Collection of Portuguese Legislation” in the Library, covering the period from 1603 to 1910, can be consulted. This collection consists of 94 volumes, with 767,575 pages, which have been digitized and are available to the public. It also comprises 5 volumes of a facsimile edition of “Ordinations Manueline”, which D. Manuel I promulgated in 1521.

The Library is open to the public for in-person consultation, daily from 9 am to 6 pm. On days of parliamentary activity (Plenary and Parliamentary Commissions), the Library remains open until the end of the work.

Parliamentary Historical Archive
The reading room of the Parliamentary Historical Archive, also called Sala dos Arcos, is located in one of the storage areas of the old monastery.

The designation of Sala dos Arcos comes from the effect caused by the four pillars on which the ceiling rests, in a double-edged vault, which, forming a gallery, divide the space into two wings.

The tiled floor dates from the 60s of the 20th century when the space was occupied by the National Archives of Torre do Tombo.

It is one of the rare monastic spaces still in existence at the São Bento Palace.

In this place, users can consult the documentation referring to almost 200 years of Portuguese constitutional history.

The parliamentary archive was created in 1821 and was initially installed in the Palácio das Necessidades where the Cortes met. Later, in 1834, he was transferred with the two Houses of Parliament to the Monastery of São Bento da Saúde.

In 1821, with the first General Courts of the Kingdom, a secretariat was created, divided into two sections: one for the work of the Cortes and the other for the work of the Parliamentary Commissions, both with Archival functions. In 1826, with the bicameral system in force, two Archives came into existence respectively from each of the existing Chambers. With the implantation of the Republic, a single file was created, which is maintained during the Estado Novo and until today. The designation of Historical Archive dates from 1977.

Parliamentary Bookstore
Adjoining the Parliamentary Historical Archive, the Parliamentary Bookstore is installed on the main façade of the Palace, in an old storage area of ​​the monastery, with direct access to the public road.

The store was opened in 2000 with the aim of encouraging knowledge about the Assembly of the Republic and parliamentary history and allowing citizens direct access to information about the work carried out by this sovereign body.

The Parliamentary Bookstore has available publications edited by Parliament since 1977, as well as evocative objects, inspired by parliamentary heritage. Books from other publishers can also be purchased.

São Bento Palace
The São Bento Palace is a palace – style neoclassical located in Lisbon, being the seat of the Parliament of Portugal since 1834. It was built in the late sixteenth century (1598) as a monastery Benedictine (Monastery of St. Benedict Health) for traces of Baltazar Álvares, with a mannerist and baroque character. The National Archive of Torre do Tombo was installed there. With the extinction of religious orders in Portugal it became the property of the State. In the 17th century, the crypts of the marquises of Castelo Rodrigo were built.

After the establishment of the liberal regime in 1834, after the Portuguese Civil War, it became the headquarters of the Cortes Gerais da Nação, becoming known as the Palácio das Cortes. Following the changes in the official name of the Parliament, the Palace was also given several official names: Palácio das Cortes (1834-1911), Palácio do Congresso (1911-1933) and Palácio da Nacional Assembly (1933-1974). In the mid-twentieth century, the designation of Palácio de S. Bento started to be used, in memory of the old Convent. This denomination remained after 1976, when it became the seat of the Assembly of the Republic.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the Palace underwent a series of major remodeling works, both interior and exterior, which made it almost completely distinct from the old Monastery, of which the remodeling by Ventura Terra and in 1936 the monumental staircase, added by António Lino and completed by Cristino da Silva. The Palace has a central body with arcades on the ground level and over these colonnaded gallery, topped by a triangular pediment decorated with stuccoes. The interior is equally grand, full of wings, and the Chamber of Deputies’ Room of Sessions, the Room of the Lost Steps, the Noble Hall, among others, as well as works of art from different periods in the history of Portugal. The Palace also includes a Historical Museum, having been classified as a National Monument in 2002.

In 1999, the new building was inaugurated, which supports the Assembly of the Republic. Located in the square of S. Bento, the new building, a 1996 project by the architect Fernando Távora, although connected to the palace by direct interior access, was purposely built in order to be an autonomous structure in order not to compromise or mischaracterize the palace layout.