The Koraes Library is Chios’ central public library. A historic institution whose history goes back to 1792, it is one of the oldest and biggest libraries in Greece. Originally, the library was an annex to the Great School of Chios. Its first collection consisted of books belonging to Adamantios Koraes and other Greek intellectuals from abroad. Following the destruction of the library during the massacre of Chios in 1822, Koraes sent more books to help rebuild its collection. In 1833, Adamantios Koraes passed away. His will stipulated that a considerable portion of his book and manuscript collection be sent to Chios.
In 1881, a devastating earthquake hit the island of Chios. Given the extent of the damage, a decision was made to house the library in its current building. In 1948, Philip Argenti financed the construction of the library’s second floor. Between 1975 and 1978, the building was expanded and modernized in order to house the Argenti folklore collection. Over the years, the library has managed to acquire priceless books, manuscripts, periodicals, newspapers, paintings, coins, maps and other items of great value through donations by eminent intellectuals.
One of the library’s most valuable treasures is the Description de l’Égypte, a series of 14 illustrated volumes, published between 1809 and 1822, donated by Napoleon in honour of Adamantios Koraes.
Born in 1748, Adamantios Koraes studied medicine at Montpellier in France and moved to Paris in 1788. Koraes never practiced medicine. Instead, he became a brilliant philologist and one of the intellectual instigators of the 1821 Greek Revolution. His motherland, which was under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, and his beloved Chios were constantly on his mind.