Combining literature and architecture, add these beautiful libraries to your travel bucket list.
Whether you’re a bibliophile or someone who appreciates stunning architecture, libraries in different cities around the world may be worth visiting.
From historical, baroque structures to modern buildings with minimalist interiors, these libraries can satisfy your pursuit of knowledge within the most aesthetically pleasing spaces.
Admont Abbey Library
Austria’s Admont Abbey Library houses 70,000 books in one of the world’s oldest and largest monasteries. Built in 1776, the library’s Baroque architecture features gold and white ornaments, ceiling frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte, and sculptures by Joseph Stammel.
Abbey Library of Saint Gall
Switzerland’s Saint Gall library and abbey are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, with almost half of the more than 150,000 tomes dating back to the Middle Ages. Visitors may marvel at the interior’s opulent Rococo style and ornamented bookshelves.
Strahov Monastery Library
Located in Prague, Czech Republic, the Strahov Monastery Library houses thousands of books, some dating all the way back to the 16th century. The library boasts two grand Baroque halls with ceiling frescoes by Siard Nosecký and Anton Maulbertsch.
Stuttgart City Library
Opened in 2011, the Stuttgart City Library in Germany is a modern and minimalist marvel. One of its most interesting features is the five-story reading room that’s shaped like an upside-down pyramid. With an all-white interior, some of the only splashes of color in the library are the thousands of books lining its shelves.
Trinity College Library
The two-story library in Dublin, Ireland has an impressive collection of more than seven million volumes including antique gems such as The Book of Kells, The Book of Durrow, and The Garland of Howth. The main hallway is lined with 14 busts of great thinkers and writers, such as Jonathan Swift, Shakespeare, and Aristotle.
Duke Humphrey’s Bodleian Library
Located in Oxford, England, the Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in Europe, housing about 13 million volumes including Shakespeare’s First Folio, the Magna Carta, and first editions of Jane Austen’s Emma and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. The library is also known for being featured in a few scenes in the Harry Potter films.
Royal Portuguese Reading Room
The Royal Portuguese Reading Room located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is truly fit for kings and queens. The library holds the biggest and most valuable collection of Portuguese literature outside of Portugal. With a limestone exterior, stained glass ceiling, and intricately carved bookcases, this structure is more like a palace for books.
George Peabody Library
The George Peabody Library is often referred to as Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books.” Opened in 1878, Peabody dedicated the library to the “kindness and hospitality” of the people in the city. A part of Johns Hopkins University, the five-storey structure holds 300,000 volumes. The massive skylights, marble floors, and wrought-iron details draw in plenty of visitors.
Though the ancient Library of Alexandria no longer exists, its modern counterpart can now be found on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The circular, granite building can fit up to eight million books and also features a planetarium, four museums, art galleries, and a manuscript restoration laboratory.
Tianjin Binhai Library
The Chinese library went viral back in 2017 when it first opened because of its futuristic look. Designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the library’s auditorium features a huge sphere in the center, known as “The Eye,” which can be seen from the outside through eye-shaped windows. The floor to ceiling shelves will make you feel as if you’re swimming in a sea of books.
Beitou Public Library
The Beitou Public Library is Taiwan’s first green library, featuring a sloping turf roof that collects rainwater to be recycled, photovoltaic cells which capture solar energy, and large windows which usher in natural light, reducing electricity consumption. Visitors can read their books outside on the balcony, nestled in the middle of idyllic surrounding greenery.
Tama Art University Library
Tama Art University’s library in Tokyo, Japan inspires balance and peacefulness in its visitors. Consisting of two different structures, one in the Hachioji campus and the other in the Kaminoge campus, the library holds around 100,000 books. The newer Hachioji Library, designed by architecture firm Toyo Ito & Associates, features concrete arches, glass walls, and minimalist furniture.
Banner image via MVRDV’s official website.