Reading a good book can transport you to another time and place, but so can a visit to one of the world many beautiful libraries. Filled with knowledge and splendour, just standing amidst these incredible books can be an incredible experience.
There are tons of beautiful libraries around the world, such as those listed in the recent book The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, by Italian photographer Massimo Listri. However, to start off, here are 11 spectacular libraries you have to see.
1Trinity College – Dublin, Ireland
Built on the remains of a 13th-century monastery, Ireland’s Trinity Coece was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. The university’s spectacular Old Library houses the 8th century Book of Kells, an embroidered Latin version of the Bible. Its Long Room also has over 200,000 of the library’s oldest books, and busts of famous men.
Also Read: 11 Places You Must See In Dublin
2Strahov Monastery Library – Prague, Czech Republic
This Premonstratensian abbey in Strahov, Prague, founded in 1143. Its library contains over 200,000 volumes and manuscripts. While you can’t actually sit down and read here, it is still one of the most beautiful libraries a book lover could visit.
3Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos (or the Vasconcelos Library) is truly the “mega-library” it was built to be. It is Dedicated to José Vasconcelos, the former president of the National Library of Mexico. The library is spread across over 38,000 square meters. Its intricate network of balconies and stories of intentionally slightly mismatched floors, allows visitors to truly get lost amidst the books.
4Rampur Raza Library, Uttar Pradesh, India
The Rampur Raza Library (or Rampur Raza Kitab Khana) in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, was founded in the 18th century by Nawab Faizullah Khan. Regarded as a national monument, it has long been a centre of Indo-Islamic cultural heritage and knowledge. The collection was built up by successive Nawabs of Rampur until the state was merged with the Union of India. It houses many rare manuscripts, miniature paintings, astronomical instruments and rare illustrated works in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Pashto, Tamil and Turkish. The library has over 300,000 books as well and is one of the largest collection in Asia.
5George Peabody Library – Baltimore, USA
The 19th century George Peabody Library was previously known as the Library of the Peabody Institute of the City of Baltimore. It was funded by the famous merchant and philanthropist George Peabody. The stunning Néo-Grec interiors were designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind and opened to the public in 1878.
6Bodleian Library – Oxford, England
Oxford University is known for its magnificent libraries, and the Bodleian Library, the main research library, is no different. With over 12 million items, it is the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library, and its collection includes beautiful rare maps, a Shakespeare First Folio, and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. . It is also one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the UK.
Also Read: 6 Places You Have To See At Oxford
7Stiftsbibliothek – St Gallen, Switzerland
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall was founded by Saint Othmar. While the Abbey itself was destroyed during a fire in 937, the library, now a Worl Heritage Site, was left unharmed. Its magnificent Rococo style hall was built by the architect Peter Thumb between 1758-67. The library has over 160,000 volumes as well as thousands of manuscripts and is the oldest and one of the most important libraries in Switzerland.
8Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt
While the ancient library at Alexandria was said to be one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, it was destroyed in a fire over 1,600 years ago. However, in 2002 a new Bibliotheca Alexandrina was built to recapture its spirit. With donations from all around the world, the massive buildings contain a planetarium, four museums, academic research centres, and over five million books. Don’t miss the façade covered in letters and characters from more than a hundred different languages
9Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria
The baroque Austrian National Library (or the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) in Vienna was opened in 1723 as a royal library of the Hapsburgs. The sumptuous interiors are full of grand marble sculptures, gilt and frescoed ceilings, and ionic columns. It is located in the Neue Burg Wing of the magnificent Hofburg Palace. It includes four museums (including the splendid Globe museum) as well as special collections and archives. In 1920, the library became a possession of the state.
10Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana – Florence, Italy
Known as the Laurentian Library this private library of the House of Medici was designed by Michelangelo in the Late Renaissance style. It is built between 1525-71 in a cloister of the massive Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence and contains over 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books.
11Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana – Rome, Italy
The Vatican Apostolic Library, or just the Vatican Library, is one of the oldest libraries in the world, though it was only formally established in 1475. Its significant collection of historical texts has over 1.1 million printed books and over 75,000 codices. The Vatican Secret Archives were separated at the start of the 17th century.
Also Read: Discover the Secrets of the Vatican
12Real Gabinete Português de Leitura – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading is a library and cultural institution. It was built in 1837 in the Portuguese Manueline (or Gothic-Renaissance) style and has the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal. It has over 350,000 works, many dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, as well as a small collection of paintings, sculptures and ancient coins.
13New York Public Library – New York City, USA
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library is a historic landmark in Midtown Manhattan. Guarded by marble lions, it is the flagship building of the NYPL system. Opened in 1911, it covers over 60,000 square meters and has been featured in various films. Don’t miss the Rose Main Reading Room and the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division.
14Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Admont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery, is home to the largest monastic library in the world. While the Abbey itself was completed in 1074 the beautiful Baroque library (late was not completed until 1776. The impressive hall is filled with frescoes and sculptures and looks like something straight out of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It also has a collection of over 200,000 volumes.
Which of these beautiful libraries would you like to visit? Share them in the comments below. You can also check out more spectacular libraries here.