La Sapienza - Università di Roma

logo de La Sapienza per la stampa

Inauguration of the MARCO Polo Compound


Inauguration Ceremony

On November 24, Sapienza University inaugurated the new Marco Polo Compound, a former mail sorting centre that has been transformed into 26,500 square meters of new labs, lecture halls, libraries and student areas for the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, the Department of European, American and Intercultural Studies and the University Language Centre.

“The name of the complex was identified through a student contest,” explains Sapienza Rector Eugenio Gaudio, “and the winning name was Marco Polo, a key historical figure in the understanding of different cultures, a pioneer of areas, cultures and languages that was unknown at the time."

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Rector Gaudio, Director General Carlo Musto D'Amore, the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Stefano Asperti, the Director of the​​ Heritage and Economic Services Area, Paola Di Bisceglie, and the Director of the Building Management Area, Sabrina Luccarini.

The Marco Polo Compound

The four-level building compound was refurbished to contains offices, laboratories and lecture halls with a total capacity of nearly 2,500 seats (340 equipped with PCs and 20 reserved for disabled users). The compound also hosts 2 libraries with over 340,000 volumes and a reading room open around the clock. Moreover, there are various areas for students to study.

University Linguistic Centre

The new University Linguistic Centre is the flagship of the Marco Polo Compound. The Center has offices and classrooms equipped with PCs: 2 lecture halls with 20 workstations, 1 lecture hall with 100 workstations, 4 ones with 50 workstations and 40 other workstations, which can also be used for student reception. 

The centre will host didactic activities for all Modern Language Degree Programmes and a range of service activities for teaching and learning modern languages, including Italian for foreigners.

“The "Marco Polo Compound represents another step towards the internationalization of knowledge, the opening of university structures to the local community and the provision of third mission services as envisaged by the European Union,” added Rector Gaudio.

Library of the Institute of Oriental Studies 

The Library of the Institute of Oriental Studies is located on two levels and can accommodate up to 168 students. The library, which has an asset of nearly 130,000 volumes and a deposit for a further 90,000, is a partner of the Google Books Search Project for digitizing and networking of vintage volumes.

The library was founded in 1904. It includes volumes in more than 30 Oriental languages, including both extinct and currents ones, including Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Syriac, Sanskrit, Tamil, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Ethiopian, Mongolian, Turkish, Tigrino, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Hindi, Bengali, Tibetan, Vietnamese. The library also has ancient and rare manuscripts in Arabic, Chinese and Japanese (16th-19th century) and Asian maps, including a collection of manuscripted Chino-Korean maps of the known world, dating back to the 1400s. Moreover, the library has many Chinese texts that are not present in other European libraries or were destroyed in China during the Cultural Revolution.

Other rarities in the library include a treatise on Avicenna's Medicine dating back to 1593, a Hebrew Bible printed in Venice by Bragadin in 1618, various Histories of China (1590, 1670 and 1777), and a precious copy of the Koran from St. Petersburg, an edition published specifically for Catherine II of Russia.

Library of Foreign Languages ​​and Literature

The Library of Foreign Languages ​​and Literature has 80 seats and over 200,000 volumes of English, German, French, Slavic and Finno-Ugric language ​​and literature, as well as Flemish and Nordic literature. The library has also acquired precious literary collections (Malvezzi, Paul Valery, Mac Pherson, Bertea and others) and possesses about one hundred rare items, including some precious “secentine.”

One of the libraries largest collections the Slavic Section with ca. 80,000 volumes on Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Serbian and Croatian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Macedonian and Belarusian language and literature. Thanks to the acquisition of some private libraries over the years, it is considered the richest and most valuable Slavic collection in Western Europe.