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Beautiful Libraries Around the World Every Booklover Should Visit

There are plenty of breathtaking places to visit in the world.

There are natural wonders like the Grand Canyon or ancient ruins like the Colosseum, or fantastic buildings with sky-high observation decks.

But there are a few places, pretty much in every city, that you might not expect to take your breath away: libraries.

No, you don’t have to be Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” to appreciate a good library. So many libraries, whether they’re several centuries or just a few decades old, can be a wonderful stop to make on your next trip.

Some libraries are even famous institutions of some of the best cities in the world. Libraries like the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library, for instance, has been photographed and appeared in movies hundreds (or possibly thousands) of times. You’ve probably seen this library, even if you haven’t been to New York.

Or, there are libraries that are celebrations of innovative design. The interesting, clean, and minimal architecture of the Stuttgart Library in Germany, for instance, would make any modern design-lover leap for joy.

And some libraries look as if you’re stepping into a royal palace, like the aptly-named Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Brazil, or the Rampur Raza Library in India.

Take a look at some of these truly stunning libraries from around the world. They aren’t the only beautiful libraries you can see across the globe, but they certainly should be on any bibliophile’s bucket list.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland

Part of Johns Hopkins University, this austere, five story library holds 300,000 volumes. Though it’s technically part of the college, any member of the public in Baltimore is free to use the library, since it’s namesake, George Peabody, was a famous philanthropist. The library is also located near the Baltimore Washington Monument (not to be confused with the Washington Monument on the National Mall) in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere neighborhood.

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library

Although there are many branches of the New York Public Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is also known as the Main Branch, nestled on Fifth Ave, near Bryant Park. The building is perhaps most famous for its intricate, marble facade and lion statues that stand guard at the base of the steps.

Central Library of Vancouver, Canada

This famous library is actually modeled after the Roman Colosseum. It has nine floors and takes up an entire city block, so it’s not only a library with nine and a half million items (including books, e-books, CDs, DVDs, newspapers and magazines), but is also a complex with shops, cafés and offices. There’s even a rooftop garden that’s open to the public.

Bodleian Library, Oxford, England

Of course, Oxford is home to many impressive libraries, but Bodleian looks like an ancient cathedral. It has been in use since the 14th century and has 12 million volumes to explore, including Shakespeare’s First folio, a Gutenberg Bible, and Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species.”

Trinity College Old Library, Dublin, Ireland

This classic library is two stories with dark wood arches and an impressive collection of over seven million volumes. The oldest library building, known as the Old Library, began construction in 1712, though the college is much older than that. In fact, it’s home to many ancient texts such as “The Book of Kells,” “The Book of Durrow” and “The Book of Howth.”

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

This cube-like library isn’t as opulent as some of the older, grander halls, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting. It’s bright, white, five-story design make it seem like a modern art gallery. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the reading room, which is shaped like an upside down pyramid. It’s not your average library.

Bibliotheque Interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne, Paris

This centuries-old library is part of the famous Sorbonne, which became part of the University of Paris. Originally built in the 13th century, it is now one of the largest libraries in Paris, with three million volumes on various subjects, especially history, geography, philosophy and French literature. The Saint-Jacques Reading Room is a particularly beautiful part of the library, with rich wood walls and mint green and cream colored, elaborate ceilings.

Admont Abbey Library, Admont, Austria

This gorgeous library opened in 1776. It’s attached to the oldest remaining monastery in Styria (a state in Austria) and contains the largest monastic library in the world. The airy white and gold interiors are decorated with beautiful frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte and sculptures by Joseph Stammel, two artists of the Baroque period.


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