Beautiful Libraries Around the World Every Booklover Should Visit

Take a look at some of the most beautiful libraries in the world. They aren’t the only lovely libraries to be found across the world, but they should be on any bibliophile’s wish list.

  1. George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland
    This minimalist, five-story library has 300,000 books and is part of Johns Hopkins University. Though it is officially part of the institution, the library is open to the general public in Baltimore, as its namesake, George Peabody, was a well-known benefactor. The library is also in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere area, near the Baltimore Washington Monument (not to be confused with the Washington Monument on the National Mall).

2. Library Of Congress – Washington D.C., USA
The Library of Congress in Washington, DC, is the country’s oldest government cultural institution as well as the country’s national library. Despite the fact that it has only three buildings, it is the world’s largest library in terms of shelf area and volume. While the library is available to the public for on-site study and as a tourist attraction, only members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and other government officials are allowed to check out volumes. In the United States, the library is regarded as the “library of last resort,” and it is responsible for making specific titles available to other national libraries when all other options have been explored.

3. Bodleian Library — Oxford, UK
The Bodleian Library embodies all that is British. It has a duke’s connection and is rather old. The Bodleian, founded in 1602, is one of Europe’s oldest libraries and England’s second biggest (second only to The British Library).

4. Stuttgart City Library, Germany
This cube-shaped library isn’t as luxurious as some of the older, larger rooms, but it’s one of the most intriguing. Its five-story, brilliant white architecture gives it the appearance of a contemporary art gallery. The reading area, which is fashioned like an upside down pyramid, is maybe the most intriguing aspect. This isn’t your typical library.

5. The Library of El Escorial, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
It’s simple to understand why this library is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This structure is perhaps one of the most important Renaissance sites in Spain. It originated as a monastery, like many old European libraries, and is noted for its magnificent paintings, which are painted on the ceiling for library patrons to appreciate.

6. Library Of Parliament – Ottawa, Canada
On our list, the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, is unique in that it is the only library whose likeness is printed on the country’s currency (it is featured on Canada’s ten dollar note). The British Museum Reading Room influenced the design of this national landmark, which has 16 flying buttresses, a vaulted ceiling in the main reading room, and white pine paneling with intricate carvings of flowers, masks, and mythological animals.

7. Abbey Library Of Saint Gall — St. Gallen, Switzerland
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is Switzerland’s oldest library. Saint Othmar, the library’s founder, is also credited with founding the abbey of the same name in 719, which is home to one of the world’s oldest monastic libraries. Around 160,000 books, including manuscripts going back to the eighth century, are housed in Saint Gall. The library was designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 1983, describing it as “a superb example of a great Carolingian monastery.” Many of the library’s contents are accessible online through an electronic database; however, pre-1900 volumes may only be read on-site.

8. The Benedictine Monastery Library – Admont, Autria
The Benedictine Monastic Library is the world’s biggest monastery library. There are 70,000 books in the library, including 1,400 manuscripts and 900 incunables. Archbishop Gebhard, who built the monastery in 1074, gave some of the library’s holdings as gifts. The roof of the library is adorned with seven cupolas, featuring magnificent murals by Bartolomeo Altomonte that depict the evolution of human knowledge as part of an overall design influenced by the Enlightenment.

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