There’s nothing I find more relaxing than sitting down with a good book. And these 10 awesome libraries are bound to make the reading experience that bit more memorable.
When was the last time you visited your local library? In fact, do you even know where your nearest one is? Libraries aren’t only a source of knowledge and learning, they can also be a journey into history as the following prove.
El Escorial, Spain
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can find this breathtaking library in the historical residence of King Phillip II of Spain, El Escorial.
The library holds more than 40,000 volumes and you’re sure to be dazzled by the vaulted ceilings and illuminating frescoes.
Wiblingen Monastery library, Germany
A former Benedictine Abbey, this building houses several departments of the medical faculty of the University of Ulm, along with this stunning library.
You can find the Wiblingen Monastery library in the stunning region of Baden-Württemberg.
Completed in 1744, it’s modelled on the Baroque style after the Austrian National Library. As the website says, the interior is ‘considered to be one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture.’ Visit and see for yourself.
Admont Abbey, Austria
Speaking of Austria, if you love libraries, you’ll want to see the Admont Abbey library in Admont, Austria. It’s the largest monastery library in the world, and was built in 1776.
There are 7 ceiling frescoes showcasing the ideals and values of the Enlightenment.
Biblioteca Geral, Coimbra, Portugal
The University of Coimbra is home to Biblioteca Geral. Construction began in 1716, and opened 7 years later in 1723.
The Joanina Library is full of Baroque décor and here you can find the library’s volumes pre- 1800. Happy reading!
Clementinum National Library, Czech Republic
The Clementinum National Library is a historic complex of buildings, and is the National Library of the Czech Republic. Its name comes from the existence of a chapel dedicated to Saint Clement in the 11th century.
Covering 20,000 square metres, the library is a great example of Baroque architecture, and is the second largest complex in Prague after Prague Castle.
Trinity College, Ireland
The largest library in all of Ireland, Trinity College is probably one of the most famous in the world. The wooden-arched building serves Trinity College and the University of Dublin.
The library’s the permanent home of the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin. Two of the 4 volumes are on public display, and pages are regularly changed.
Abbey library of Saint Gall, Switzerland
The Abbey library of Saint Gall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in St Gallen.
The oldest library in Switzerland, it’s also one of the most important monastery libraries in the world, with over 160,000 volumes. Another big draw is the Rococo-styled library.
Raza library, India
Completed in 1904, the Raza Library in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, is a repository of Indo-Islamic cultural heritage knowledge established in the 18th century.
Once part of a palace belonging to former ruler, Nawab Faizullah Khan, the library is still protected by the Indian government.
Expect to see rare manuscripts (around 17,000), along with paintings and art objects.
Library of Parliament, Canada
The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario, is the main information hub for the Canadian Parliament. It was once part of the city’s original parliamentary headquarters built in 1876.
Inspired by the British Museum Reading Room, the library's collection comprises around 600,000 items, covering hundreds of years of history and tended by a staff of 300. Unfortunately, access to the facility is generally restricted to visitors on parliamentary business.
Tianyi Pavilion library, China
In Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province in China, is a library that’s all about traditional Chinese architecture. Tianyi Pavilion library is the oldest existing library in the country, and was built in 1560 by a retired imperial minister.
A collection that include around 300,000 ancient books, including rare antique Ming dynasty printed and hand copied volumes. The Chinese authorities declared Tianyi Pavilion a National Heritage Site in 1982.
National Library of Brazil
Built in 1810, the National Library of Brazil is the largest library in Latin America and 7th largest in the world.
Its collection contains around 9 million items, and it’s famous for having organised the first library science courses in Latin America. One of the most notable collections in the library is the Teresa Cristina Maria photograph collection.
It includes over 21,000 photographs dating from the 19th century, and was donated by Emperor Pedro II to the library in 1891.