Walter Savage Landor was right when he said: “Nothing is pleasanter than exploring a library.”
For bibliophiles and book lovers, there is no more charming and magical place than a library, even better if it’s one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It isn’t just an ordinary place; it’s like a hometown, and you can feel comfortable and reassured, just as you would in your home.
Imagine you are surrounded by thousands of books like treasures; they’re shining on the shelves, inviting you to read them through their bright titles and attractive covers. All of these treasures are in one place, a majestic place—the library. Its architecture can be simple or luxurious, dotted with rich history, or it can be the latest style of modern design.
Whatever it is, there is no doubt about its greatness for book lovers. They can travel thousands of miles to visit one lovely library to explore its connection to its hometown or freeze time by stepping into one of the pages of its books.
If you are a bookworm traveller or simply a bibliophile wanting to explore new libraries worldwide, this article is for you. Let’s go deeper into 10 of the best libraries in the world.
1. Trinity College Library
The Long Room is the most important part of the library, found in the Old Library building. The “room” contains the most valuable books; it houses almost 200,000 books that are considered a treasure for bibliophiles.
When you visit the library, you can feel like you have travelled back several centuries and smell the fragrance of history between the library walls. It is an iconic tourist spot, attracting many tourists not only in Ireland but worldwide. In addition, the library contains Brian Boru’s harp, ancient books, and manuscripts and houses roughly 7 million volumes, making it one of the best libraries in the world for a bookworm to explore.
2. George Peabody Library
In addition to being a great research and teaching space, the George Peabody Library is one of the most amazing and beautiful libraries in the world, located in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
The library dates back to 1857, the foundation date of the Peabody Institute. During that time, philanthropist George Peabody decided to direct the Peabody Institute’s efforts to fund the library as an appreciation for Baltimore citizens. The library finally opened its doors in 1878.
When you visit the library, you will be amazed by the beautiful architecture that makes it look almost like a luxurious hotel. Moreover, it houses 300,000 treasured books from the 19th century. Those valuable books cover different topics from religion and literature to history and science in different romance languages.
3. Stuttgart City Library
Stuttgart City Library has a modern and simple design. It opened in 2011 and was designed by the South Korean architect Eun Young Yi.
Its white-coloured walls will dazzle your eyes with much brightness. The beauty of its design stems from its simplicity. The exterior design is designed in the form of a cube, adorned by nine floors and an inverted pyramid-shaped reading room from the inside.
The library was awarded the national prize as the Library of the Year in 2013. It includes nearly 500,000 books, meeting rooms, and a special floor for children. Visitors can take a tour freely and fill their Instagram feed with brilliant pictures of the library’s interior.
4. Admont Abbey Library
The amazing Admont Abbey Library dates back to 1776. The library is housed in Admont Abbey, Austria. Once you see the library architecture and ornaments, you will be mesmerised. It looks like one of the libraries we read about in fiction!
In addition to its dazzling beauty, it is considered the biggest monastic library in the world, with around 70,000 volumes. Its design features white and gold decorations and Baroque architecture. It’s the perfect haven for any bookworm and history buff.
5. Royal Portuguese Reading Room
It houses almost 350,000 valuable items, stealing the hearts of every bookworm out there. However, this is not the only reason why bibliophiles admire this library this much. With the beauty and splendour of its design, Time Magazine has chosen the library as the fourth most beautiful library in the world.
The library’s most wonderful features are the dark-wooden bookshelves and ornamentation, the gold detailing of its three floors of bookcases, its magnificent chandelier, and the stained-glass ceiling.
6. Mafra Palace Library
The unique Mafra Palace Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The library is housed in Mafra, Portugal, dating back to 1755. The library’s decoration is suitable for its host, the luxurious National Palace of Mafra.
Amazingly, the library houses important and precious volumes and books, making up almost 36,000 items from the 14th to 19th centuries. The Mafra Palace Library is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the perfect site for both bibliophiles and history buffs!
One of the weirdly interesting things about this beautiful library is how it preserves the condition of the books by protecting them from insects. Believe it or not, the workers in the library employ bats (yes, you read this right) to eat the insects that are threats to the treasured books.
Other than the bizarre way of taking care of the books, visiting the Mafra Palace Library will take and wrap you with the magic of the past, so definitely include it in your bucket list of visiting the best libraries in the world.
7. The British Library
The British Library is one of the greatest libraries worldwide and the national library of the United Kingdom, established in 1973. It is also considered a leading research site, and visitors can study or work there efficiently. As a legal deposit library, the library receives a copy of any published work in the United Kingdom.
The library houses almost 170 million different items, including almost 14 million books. The library collection is diverse, including books, magazines, newspapers, audio materials, and manuscripts—some of which date back to 2000 BC.
Visitors, mainly students and researchers, can use the library collection as long as they need it. It’s open to everyone who has a real need for its materials. The library also provides digital and online materials through its online gallery; you can freely access thousands of collections with one click wherever you’re based.
8. The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is located in Washington, United States. The library, founded in 1800, is considered the national library of the United States and the oldest federal cultural institution in the country. It is housed in 3 buildings and is a huge research and cultural centre, attracting even non-bibliophiles. In terms of the number of items, the huge Library of Congress is considered the world’s largest library, with 173 million items, ranging from books, manuscripts, and maps to audio materials.
Don’t worry if you’re not an English-language speaker; the library proudly has materials in 470 languages. Additionally, the Library of Congress also provides some materials in Braille.
The library will be one of your best choices when you visit the USA, so don’t miss it!
9. The Library of Alexandria (Bibliotheca Alexandrina)
Bibliotheca Alexandrina is located in Egypt, Alexandria. It was the most important, famous, and magnificent library and cultural institute in the ancient world. The Library of Alexandria was not only a huge library housing books; it included a wide range of valuable books, meeting rooms, halls for lectures, gardens, and much more.
Unfortunately, the library was destroyed in a massive fire. In an attempt to revive the glory of the old library, the new Library of Alexandria opened and welcomed visitors in 2002.
The new library is a prominent cultural institute. It is home to four museums, a planetarium, a manuscripts restoration laboratory, a gallery, and meeting rooms.
The library currently includes 500,000 volumes but can fit up to 8 million books. The main reading room extends 70,000 metres and consists of eleven floors. Whenever you visit the library, make sure to tour it as a whole and take some memorable pictures.
10. Biblioteca Vasconcelos
The Biblioteca Vasconcelos, named after the philosopher José Vasconcelos, catches the eye at first glance with its design. The bookworms will immediately notice the beauty in its complex maze of books, making it one of the coolest libraries you’ll ever come across.
The library is placed in Mexico City, Mexico. Its construction was completed in 2006, and its building and design were reported as one of the most modern structures of the 21st century. The library’s features are endearing, with metal bookshelves and window walls. In addition, it includes approximately 600,000 volumes of different subjects.
The library is like a safe haven for all book lovers and bibliophiles. If you’re a bookworm or even slightly obsessed with books, this library will be your second home—one you prefer, get influenced by, and always seek.
Here, we have come to the end of our fabulous global cultural tour among the best libraries worldwide. We hope this versatile list will be useful to you for your next literary journey, so make sure to explore at least one of these libraries!
If you want to learn about more stunning libraries, check out Chetham’s Library: Britain’s Oldest Free Public Reference Library and Marsh’s Library in Ireland.