Although the abbey was largely destroyed in the Reformation and closed down altogether in 1805, its library, built between 1758 and 1767, still holds a collection of more than 100,000 books and manuscripts. To visit the library hall, one of Switzerland's treasures, you are given gray felt slippers to protect the magnificently inlaid wood flooring. The hall is a gorgeous explosion of gilt, frescoes, undulating balconies, and luminously burnished woodwork, mostly walnut
and cherry. Its contents, including 1,200-year-old illuminated manuscripts, constitute one of the world's oldest and finest scholarly collections. Also on display, incongruously, is an Egyptian mummy dating from 700 BC. Not to be missed is the giant globe representing the world in 1571, with grossly misproportioned continents. The original was stolen by Zürich about 300 years ago, and in 2009 this reproduction was given to St. Gallen in lieu of the original.