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20 Most Awe-Inspiring Libraries Around the World

May 14, 2023


Libraries have always been a wonderland of knowledge and wisdom that is reachable to everyone. In a world dominated by the internet, it's easy to forget about the magic that comes from old books and libraries. These awe-inspiring libraries still exist, and they carry a sense of intellectual accomplishment that drives us to learn about the past, present, and future.

Here, we will explore 20 of the most awe-inspiring Libraries around the world, which give us a glimpse of the grandeur of literature.

1. The Library of Congress, Washington D.C., United States

The Library of Congress, situated in the United States' Capital, is the largest library globally, with a collection of over 167 million items. This library is home to famous historical documents, including the original drafts of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. The Library displays the country's history and culture in its unique way, making it one of the most awe-inspiring libraries on this list.

2. The Biblioteca Apostolica Vatican, Vatican City

The Biblioteca Apostolica Vatican is situated in Vatican City and is one of the world's oldest libraries, founded in 1448 AD by Pope Nicholas V. The library displays an impressive collection of manuscripts and ancient texts that date back to the second century. It also houses Michelangelo's Sistine Hall, a room decorated with Michelangelo's fantastic frescoes, further enhancing the Library's magnificence.

3. The British Library, London, United Kingdom

The British Library, located in London, is one of the world's largest libraries, with over 170 million items in its collection. Its magnificent interior design comprises textures of glazed bricks and timber, creating a sense of grandeur that carries the vast history and culture of the UK. The library is home to original texts and works of great writers such as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens.

4. The Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

The Trinity College Library is situated in Dublin, Ireland, and is the largest library in the country, with a collection that dates back to the 15th century. The library is home to hundreds of thousands of old manuscripts, including the seventh-century Book of Kells, and the library's main chamber, known as the Long Room, displays over 200,000 antique books across a two-story gallery.

5. The Joanina Library, Coimbra, Portugal

The Joanina Library is situated at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. The library was built-in 1717 and is home to a collection of over 60,000 books, most of which are from the 16th to the 18th century. The unique element that distinguishes the Joanina Library from other libraries is the bats. The library has an extraordinary system of resident bats that eat insects that could damage the books, creating a natural way to preserve the books.

6. The Library at Melk Abbey, Austria

The Library at Melk Abbey, situated in Austria, is a grandiose example of Baroque architecture. The library displays an impressive collection of books and manuscripts, with a vast selection on religion, history, and science. The lavish beauty of the library carries religious authenticity, showcasing the Catholic Church's power during the 18th century.

7. The Royal Library of Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Library of Copenhagen, situated in Denmark's capital, is the largest library in the country, with a collection of over 35 million items. The library carries a unique design, with an impressive circular room called the Black Diamond, made of black glass and steel with an underground extension. The library's collection includes some of Denmark's cultural and historical establishments, including works of Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen.

8. The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, Italy

The Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana is situated in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, and displays an awe-inspiring collection of ancient texts from the Greco-Roman era. The library was built in the 15th century by Jacopo Sansovino, one of the greatest architects of the Renaissance era. The library's beauty is in its stunning architecture, with a stunning facade of Tintoretto's Paradise mural and elegant staircases that transfer visitors to another world.

9. The National Library of China, Beijing, China

The National Library of China is situated in Beijing, China, and showcases Chinese history and culture through its vast collection of books, documents, and manuscripts. The library's collection dates back to the imperial era, including the world-famous Yongle Encyclopedia, a massive project completed during the fifteenth century. The National Library displays modern architectural design that combines the Chinese culture with the modern world, making it an attraction that must be seen to be believed.

10. The New York Public Library, New York City, United States

The New York Public Library is one of the most famous and awe-inspiring libraries worldwide. Situated in New York City, the library comprises several buildings, including the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The library houses an extensive collection of books, documents, and manuscripts, with particular emphasis on American history and literature.

11. The Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria

The Austrian National Library is a vast Baroque palace situated in Vienna, Austria. Made of marble and decorated with gold and delicate frescoes, the library houses numerous collections of texts, documents, manuscripts, and historical objects, including the famous Book of Hours from the mid-fifteenth century. The palace-like structure of the library showcases the Imperial Austro-Hungarian Empire's golden era of art and design.

12. The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Royal Portuguese Reading Room is a grandiose library that displays an impressive collection of Portuguese literary works and ancient texts. Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the library comprises intricate gothic, Renaissance-style architecture detailed with stained glass windows and a stunning cast-iron lace stairway.

13. The Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

The Stuttgart City Library is a modern masterpiece, showcasing innovative and cutting-edge architecture. The library is designed with a dynamic curved shape inspired by the shape of a Rubik's cube, stretching over nine floors and displaying more than 3 million titles in unique puzzle-shaped seats. The library provides visitors with a modern look into the future of library architecture, bringing a new aspect to the importance of literature and design.

14. The Library of Alexandria, Egypt

The Library of Alexandria, situated in Egypt, is one of the world's most historical and significant libraries. The library dates back to 295 BC and held a collection of texts and manuscripts from numerous regions in the world, making it a global center for intellectual exchange and knowledge production. Sadly, the original library was destroyed in 642 AD, but a modern reconstruction, built-in 2002, is still an awe-inspiring center of knowledge and learning.

15. The Rijksmuseum Research Library, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Located in the Netherlands' capital, the Rijksmuseum Research Library is a smaller library that showcases the country's cultural heritage and historical significance. The library holds a rich collection of texts, including works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, as well as a vast collection of antique maps.

16. The George Peabody Library, Baltimore, United States

The George Peabody Library, located in Baltimore, United States, is a small-scale library with a grandiose design. The library displays a unique design with cast iron balconies, spiral staircases, and ornamental detailing throughout. The library's collection dates back to the 19th century, including valuable manuscripts of the work of Shakespeare and Dante.

17. The Stiftsbibliothek Admont, Austria

The Stiftsbibliothek Admont is situated in Austria and boasts stunning Baroque architecture. The library's interior consists of a vast gallery with a collection of works comprising religious books, manuscripts, and valuable historical texts. The library's bookshelves are made of whitewashed wood, gilt with gold leaf and topped by intricate frescoes, creating a sophisticated elegance.

18. The National Library of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

The National Library of Latvia, situated in Riga, is an architectural masterpiece that showcases glass, steel, and modern design. The library's incredible glass exterior replicates the country's cultural symbols, such as the Latvian national flag's colors, and the library's interior is decorated with natural wood finishes and a vast collection of texts.

19. The Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenb├╝ttel, Germany

The Herzog August Bibliothek, located in Germany, is one of Europe's most notable libraries, with a collection of over a million items. The library seminally holds a Renaissance-era collection of manuscripts and books that highlight the cultural shift in Europe and the birth of the Enlightenment. The library is home to some of the country's best-preserved historical texts, including works of Martin Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

20. The Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City

The Vatican Apostolic Library is situated in Vatican City, and it's the world's most restricted library. The Library showcases a vast collection of manuscripts, texts, and ancient maps, including Pope Innocent VIII's personal copy of Malleus Maleficarum, a book outlining procedures used during the inquisition. The Vatican Library is one of the world's most beautiful and secretive libraries, with its intellectual treasure trove that justifies its place alongside such famous institutions.


In conclusion, Libraries remain a true representation of a country's culture and history, and these awe-inspiring structures showcase our past and present intellectual achievements. Each Library is unique in its design, history, and collection of manuscripts and texts. A visit to these Libraries will inspire anyone, not just scholars and academics, to harness their inner curiosity and absorb the knowledge of the ages.


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