Coimbra: Are there seriously bats in here?

The Biblioteca Joanine in the University of Coimbra, like much of the Uni, is an impressive piece of work and probably responsible for some part of a room in one of the Harry Potter books. Like the Long Room in Dublin’s Trinity College, the room is fairly precious to its hosts, closed off from the outside elements (mostly the sun) and generally overpriced for a squiz. And you’re not allowed to take photos either, which makes a sneaky one all the more desirable, even if Google Image has a wealth of HD examples (who doesn’t like a rebellious challenge?)

019 Coimbra library

What I found most intriguing about the beautiful room has nothing to do with its lengthy history, nor the volumes of literature and science in all the pages of all the books. Rather, it was the fact (stated ever so nonchalantly in the library’s fact sheet) that a colony of bats reside in the room and come out at night to eat any insects that would damage the books/artefacts within the walls. I doubt the ugly little guys would be welcome in too many 18th century royal buildings, but here there appears to be a pretty sweet exception for them and the relationship has been going on some time. You eat my bugs and we leave you alone – if you’re evil enough to poop on any of our antique tables, we’ll call Batman to come and bash you all (he did go into pest control after faking his death in the last film, right?)

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