The library became one of the richest Ottoman archives in the world in 1931 when it acquired millions of Ottoman documents from Turkey. Today, the library’s Oriental Department contains more than 160 sijills, 1000 registers, 1,000,000 individual documents, and thousands of manuscripts, from all the provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The library is truly a hidden gem for scholars of the Middle East and the Balkans.
Located on the grounds of the National Garden in the Topkhane district of Tehran, the library and museum are a must-see not only for researchers but also anybody visiting Iran’s capital. While the museum holds an extensive collection of various artifacts, coins, artworks and carpets, the tens of thousands of Islamic manuscripts, many of which are rare and some unique, make the library one of the largest depositories of its kind in Iran.
The Bosniak Institute in Sarajevo was a foundation established to promote the development and preservation of the cultural wealth, history and identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Institute offers a large, multi-themed library, a manuscript and rare books collection, an archive and various special collections such as those of postcards and audio records.
The Historical Archive of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, Greece contains a rich and largely unexplored collection of Ottoman documents. The archive’s collection includes more than 4,000 registers produced over the course of three centuries of Ottoman rule and constitutes a remarkable source for the history of Thessaloniki (Selanik) and its surrounding region.
The Central Historical Archive is the main depository of historical documents in the Republic of Georgia and a major archive in the Caucasus region. Famed for its large collection of ancient Georgian manuscripts and Imperial Russian documents, the archive also preserves primary sources that are of great value to scholars of Ottoman and Persian history.
The Archivo General de Simancas (AGS) is the primary central archive of the Hispanic Monarchy for documents from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, although it also holds documents dating from the medieval period. It is located in the fifteenth-century castle of Simancas in a small village of the same name, ten kilometers from Valladolid. It is a valuable repository not only for the study of early modern Iberian empires, but also for North Africa and the Mediterranean.
The Chester Beatty Library contains Oriental and Western books and manuscripts bequeathed by the private collector Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). Located on the grounds of Dublin Castle, the library houses one of the finest manuscript collections of Islamic and East Asian material in Europe and is especially well known for its illustrated manuscripts.
The Institute for Oriental Studies in Sarajevo (Orijentalni institut u Sarajevu) is a public research institution dedicated to the study of the Arabic, Turkish and Persian languages and literatures, both in general and, more specifically, for Bosnia’s Ottoman past. It was formerly one of the most important institutions for conducting research on the Ottoman heritage of the former Yugoslavia, although today, regrettably, it is better known for its most tragic fate: it was burnt down to the ground in 1992. Despite this, it still contains a modest collection of manuscripts and documents in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and Bosnian, all of which have been digitized, and two collections of reference literature.
Gazi Husrev-Begova Biblioteka is the largest collection of Islamic manuscripts and documents in the Balkans. Located on the premises of the mosque complex of the same name in Sarajevo, the well-catalogued collection and brand new library is one of the premier locations for the study of the Ottoman Empire in general and the Balkans in particular. At the beginning of 2014, the library will officially open a state-of-the-art building to researchers and the general public.
The rich Oriental collections of the Leiden University contain some 6,000 Middle Eastern manuscripts, about 120,000 rare books printed before 1950, and photographs of interest to the scholars of the region. The collection is located at the Special Collections section of the main library of the university at Leiden, the Netherlands.