Libraries are home to massive volumes of books preserved over the centuries. A trip to the library means a trip to the temple of knowledge. If you’re a book lover like me, you’ll find solace in reading a good book in a quiet corner of a room; and the first thing you ask when you visit a country is the location of its famous library. The rich collection of books, the architecture and the interior design can transport you to different worlds unknown to mankind.
Here are some of the world’s greatest libraries I wish to visit and get lost in someday, in no particular order.
1. Trinity College Library, Ireland
This library holds more than 6 million volumes, and the only “copyrights library” that has rights to receive all published materials in The Republic of Ireland and the whole United Kingdom. The Book of Kells, the famous Gospel manuscript in Latin, permanently resides in this library. For those who do not know, that book contains the four gospels of the New Testament plus other scripts and texts. The long room is lined with marble busts of great philosophers and writers and houses 200, 000 old books.
2. Admont Library Austria
Admont library is a work of art itself. The baroque architecture, the sculptures, frescoes and the rich collection of literature. The seven ceilings were painted in 1775 by Bartolomeo Altomonte. They show the steps of man’s exploration of thinking and speaking from the sciences to Divine Revelation in the central cupola. The sculptures are carefully carved especially the four life-size representations of Death, the Last Judgment and Heaven and Hell. The library holds 200,000 books and thousands of important manuscripts.
3. Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland
This library holds 160,000 volumes, and some of the oldest pieces of literature in Switzerland that dates back to 8th century through 15th centuries. The architecture was designed by Peter Thumb, in a Rococo style (late baroque).
4. Library of Parliament, Canada
The library’s collection consists of 600,000 volumes exclusively for parliamentary business. However, the public can access materials produced by research publication.
Architects Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones, designed the Victorian Gothic style architecture of the building inspired by the British Museum reading room. It was built as a chapter house, a parliamentary headquarters in 1876. The picturesque interior is lined with mythical creatures and variety of textures.
5. The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Brazil
Located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, this library holds more than 350,000 volumes. The interior follows the Neo-Manueline style with its ornamental door and wooden shelves. It has artistic walls, a high skylight ceiling with a beautiful chandelier.
6. The Peabody Library, Baltimore
Peabody library, formerly known as Peabody Institute is located at Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland. Philanthropist George Peabody, funded the institute with the goal of providing and maintaining free information to those who seek it. It holds more than 300,000 volumes. The interior is an infusion of Neoclassicism and early Renaissance, now called Neo-Grec revival style. It is described as the “cathedral of books” and considered as one of the most beautiful in the world.
7. Bibliothèque Sainte- Geneviève, Paris
Sainte- Geneviève is a university and public library that was built between 1838 and 1850. It contains more than 2 million collection of books and documents.
8. Jay Walker’s Private Library
Jay walker calls it the library of human imagination. It is a private library located in his Ridgefield, Connecticut home. It contains artifacts and more than 50,000 volumes. Besides holding museum-level artifacts, the interior has floating platforms, the staircase change colors, and impressive sound and lighting design. It is truly one of the most amazing libraries in the world.
9. Mafra, Portugal
The library is the highlight of Mafra National Palace. The Rococo style interior and marble floor rival the magnificence of Melk Abbey. It holds valuable manuscripts and more than 35,000 volumes that date back to 14th century.
10. The Library of El Escorial, Spain
El Escorial library holds important illuminated manuscripts such as: the Ottonian Golden Gospels of Henry II, more than 40,000 volumes and the personal collection of Philip II. The ceiling and walls are decorated with frescoes that depict the seven areas of the liberal arts.
11. Handelingenkamer, Netherlands
This old library contains 100,000 volumes, records of proceedings and all the parliamentary hearings that are preserved since the construction of the library. The interior allows natural light to come in because it was built at the end of 19th century before the electric lighting was invented.
12. Melk Monastery Library, Austria
Melk Monastery is one of the most famous monastic sites. The interior boasts a very elegant Baroque style. The ceiling fresco is a symbolic depiction of faith. The wooden sculptures are depictions of the four faculties: Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence. The library consists of twelve rooms that hold significant manuscripts from different centuries.
13. Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany
The grandeur of Wiblingen Monastery is incomparable. The interior is decorated in a classic and sophisticated Rococo style. Intricate ornaments that filled the walls and the ceiling fresco represents a vision that the treasures of wisdom and science should be preserved.
14. Strahov Monastery Library, Czech Republic
Strahov Monastery library holds more than 200,000 volumes and valuable pieces of literature that date back to early 18th century. Considering the value, they don’t loan books, but you are free to visit and read from 9am to 4pm. If you want to explore, the library has secret passageways. Think of Narnia or Harry Potter.
15. Shiba Ryotaro Museum, Osaka, Japan
The museum holds 20,000 books collected by the historical novelist, Shiba Ryotaro.
16. The Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford
Codrington library contains a vast collection of books particularly strong in law and history especially the history of Britain and early modern Europe.
17. Cottbus Library, Germany
The architecture of Cottbus library was designed by Herzog & De Meuron in 1991, following the reunification of Germany. The facade is made of glass and all white, while the interior is painted with green and pink. It has high ceilings and spacious rooms perfect for reading.
18. Austrian National Library, Austria
This is the largest library in Austria and home to a rich collection of literary pieces, manuscripts, artifacts and papyrus collection. The Baroque style structure was built in 1722 and originally called as the Imperial Library until 1920.
19. Triptaka Koreana, Haeinsa Temple, South Korea
The library holds a huge and impressive collection of Buddhist scriptures carved onto wooden blocks from the 13th century. It’s the 32nd national treasure of Korea and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
20. Palafoxiana library, Mexico
This is the first public library in Mexico established in 1646, and one of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. It is home to more than 40, 000 books, rare manuscripts and a collection of old records.
This is not a complete list of all the stunning and amazing libraries all over the world. The library of Alexandria in Africa is great too. There’s the national library of Southern Australia, the egyptian libraries and more. There is at least one great library in every country. They are all heaven on earth for all the book lovers and knowledge seekers.