- "Libraries are as the shrine where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and all that without delusion or imposture are preserved and reposed."
– Sir Francis Bacon
- +3 Science
- 1 Free Technology.
- Free Library in the city.
- Contains 2 slots for Great Works of Writing, which provide +2 theming bonus if you fill the slots with Great Works of Writing from different civilizations and different eras.
The Great Library is a scientific wonder that provides useful bonuses early on. It is arguably the best world wonder of the entire game. First, its effect to grant 1 free technology on top of providing a free Library is proven to be extremely useful, especially in the Ancient Era. Second, its overall boost to Science (along with the free Library and Great Scientist point) may prove invaluable to your early game tech progression. Finally, starting in Brave New World, it provides two free slots for Great Works of Writing, which are exceptionally useful for the tourism race that starts in the mid-game.
If you want to have a good chance of finishing the wonder, it's recommended to start building it as soon as possible. Unless pursuing an early rush, you're highly recommended when playing on Prince difficulty or below. However, it's not always recommended to build this wonder as it'll slow down your early-game expansion. With the boosts that the AI receives on King difficulty and above, they may easily build it ahead of you, especially if you have poor production. If you plan on building it, your starting research order should be Pottery first and Writing second, or you risk being outraced by the others.
Like many Wonders that provide free buildings, if you're building the Great Library, do so before you build the normal Library.
The Great Library of Alexandria was one of the two most important libraries of the ancient world. Ptolemy I founded it around 300 BC, and the Library was enhanced and expanded by his successors. The Library attempted to obtain copies of all scrolls of any consequence, and eventually contained over 700,000 volumes. Religious fanatics destroyed the library in 391 AD, after nearly 700 years of operation. Today, only a portion of the catalog survives, providing us with a mere hint of what treasures the library contained.
Ancient sources differ widely on who is responsible for the destruction and when it occurred. Although there is a mythology of the burning of the Library at Alexandria, the library may have suffered several fires or acts of destruction over many years. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD, the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in 391 AD, and the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642 AD.