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25 Must-See Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

March 31, 2023

Ah, libraries, are the integral reflection of the knowledge that, while ancient, is still as relevant to us today as ever. Granted, with the internet all of our knowledge resides at the tips of our fingers, but nothing can quite compare to the experience – the silent serenity and respect for knowledge – that a great library can carry. If you plan on traveling in the near future, I would suggest stopping by one of these incredible pieces of architecture!

 

So, to give you a world-renowned tour, here is a list of the 25 Must-See Most Beautiful Libraries in the World:

 

Mafra National Palace Library, Portugal – This baroque library takes its inspiration from the grandeur of ancient Roman libraries and was intended to be a supply of knowledge at the hands of the poor and underprivileged, even though the palace was constructed as a summer residence for King João V. The main room is the main spectacle, with 5,000 leather-bound books, frescoed ceilings and a beautiful balcony from where the king could observe the library.

 

Handelingenkamer, The Netherlands – Founded in 1622 and located in The Hague, this impressive baroque library was designed for members of the House of Representatives to perform their research and studies. The library is particularly notable for its large stained-glass windows, which share the Room’s light with the world.

 

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, USA – This beautiful library is part of Yale University and is one of the largest libraries of its kind in the world. It holds a vast collection of rare books, manuscripts, and archives, and is particularly impressive due to its modern glass and marble construction and modern climate control techniques.

 

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Brazil – This ornate library in Rio de Janeiro features the Portuguese royal coat of arms, ornate ironwork, and a unique cupola with spectacular wood carvings. The impressive collection of works is highlighted by a replica of a 15th-century manuscript.

 

Trinity College Library, Ireland – One of the best libraries in the world, this 800-year-old library in Dublin is a living reflection of Ireland’s literary heritage. It houses over five million printed volumes and a 14th-century manuscript of the Four Gospels.

 

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague – A wildly decorated library featuring paintings, sculptures, frescoes, and gilded bookshelves, the Strahov Monastery Library is a feast for the eyes. The collection includes over 200,000 books and manuscripts, including a number of rare and priceless works.

 

Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt – This modern library in Alexandria, Egypt, is a tribute to the ancient Library of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is home to millions of books and also features museums, art galleries, and a planetarium.

 

Admont Abbey Library, Austria – This impressive library in Admont Abbey is the largest monastic library in the world and boasts over 200,000 volumes. The library features a stunning ceiling fresco and a collection of rare manuscripts and incunabula.

 

Library of Congress, USA – The largest library in the world, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., houses over 170 million items, including books, manuscripts, photographs, and maps. The library's collections are diverse and include materials from all over the world.

Great Hall at the Library of Congress's Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C brown wooden framed glass window the ceiling of a large building with a clock on it

 

Royal Library of Turin, Italy – This baroque library in Turin, Italy, was built in the 1700s and features stunning frescoes and stuccoes. The library holds a collection of over 200,000 volumes, including manuscripts, rare books, and maps.

 

Joanina Library, Portugal – This 18th-century library at the University of Coimbra features ornate baroque architecture, including gilded bookcases and elaborate frescoes. The library holds a collection of over 250,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts and incunabula.

 

National Library of China, China – Located in Beijing, the National Library of China is the largest library in Asia and holds over 37 million items. The library's collections include ancient Chinese manuscripts, rare books, and contemporary publications.

 

George Peabody Library, USA – This beautiful library in Baltimore, Maryland, was founded in the 19th century and features stunning neoclassical architecture. The library's collection includes over 300,000 volumes, including rare books and manuscripts.

 

Clementinum Library, Czech Republic – This stunning baroque library in Prague features elaborate frescoes, gilded bookcases, and a stunning ceiling painting by Jan Hiebl. The library's collection includes over 20,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts and first editions.

 

Bodleian Library, UK – The main research library of the University of Oxford, the Bodleian Library holds over 13 million items, including rare books, manuscripts, and maps. The library's collections are particularly strong in the areas of British and Western European history.

 

Biblioteca Marciana, Italy – This beautiful library in Venice was founded in the 16th century and features stunning Renaissance architecture, including marble columns and a coffered ceiling. The library holds a collection of over one million volumes, including rare manuscripts and incunabula.

 

Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany – This beautiful library in Ulm features stunning rococo architecture, including a ceiling fresco by Franz Martin Kuen. The library holds a collection of over 120,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts and incunabula.

 

Bibliothèque Mazarine, France – This beautiful library in Paris was founded in the 17th century and features stunning neoclassical architecture. The library's collection includes over 600,000 volumes, including rare books, manuscripts, and prints.

 

Vatican Library, Vatican City – One of the oldest libraries in the world, the Vatican Library holds over one and a half million volumes, including rare manuscripts and incunabula. The library's collections are particularly strong in the areas of theology and church history, as well as classical literature and art.

 

The National Library of Russia, Russia – The oldest public library in Russia, the National Library of Russia in Saint Petersburg holds a vast collection of over 36 million items, including rare books, manuscripts, and maps. The library's collections are particularly strong in the areas of Slavic studies and Russian history.

 

The Library of El Escorial, Spain – This impressive library in the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial features stunning Renaissance architecture, including ornate bookcases and a beautifully painted ceiling. The library's collection includes over 40,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts and incunabula.

 

The John Rylands Library, UK – This beautiful library in Manchester was founded in the 19th century by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her late husband, John Rylands. The library features stunning neo-Gothic architecture and holds a collection of over 1.4 million items, including rare books and manuscripts.

 

The Austrian National Library, Austria – This impressive library in Vienna holds over 12 million items, including rare books, manuscripts, and maps. The library's collections are particularly strong in the areas of Austrian and European history, literature, and music.

 

The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Brazil – This ornate library in Rio de Janeiro was founded in the late 19th century and features stunning neo-Manueline architecture, including intricate stone carvings and stained glass windows. The library holds a collection of over 350,000 volumes, including rare books and manuscripts.

 

The New York Public Library, USA – The second-largest public library in the United States, the New York Public Library in New York City holds a vast collection of over 55 million items, including rare books, manuscripts, and photographs. The library's collections are particularly strong in the areas of American history, literature, and culture.

New York Public Library New York Public Library

 

These are just a few of the many beautiful and fascinating libraries in the world. Whether you're a book lover, a history buff, or just someone who appreciates beautiful architecture, visiting these libraries is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Jason

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I enjoy designing and curating experiences both virtually and in 3-dimensional reality.
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