10 Most Beautiful Libraries to Visit in Europe

If reading is in your blood, visiting one of the following libraries located throughout Europe would be an enlightening experience. Libraries are considered to be historic landmarks in Europe along with other awe-inspiring attractions in the continent. There are many reasons why you should go to the library. One of the reasons I often visit the library in my home town is – I find it as an enlightening place to be enlightened by. There I could find and read as many as books I want based on my interest in reading.

Trinity College Library. Photo Credit: Sam DeLong at Flickr.

Europe is an enchanting place to discover, everyone notices it. I heard people saying that European libraries are worth a visit to find wisdom as well as inspirations. Their interior designs of the buildings and the richly collection of ancient books has always fascinated me. Whether you like to go to the library or not, the following libraries don’t only inspire you reading books of different genre but also tell you the fascinating stories of the past in relation to designing the structures. These are the top famous libraries in Europe you must see in your lifetime.

1) Trinity College Library: Dublin, Ireland

The impressive Long Room of Trinity College Library. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the must-see attractions in Dublin city is obviously the library of Trinity College. Take a walk through the majestic Long Room (65-meter) of Trinity College Library and you step back in time into a magical place. Anyone who visits the library would enjoy marveling at the stunning historic interior of the buildings. Two-story, with magnificent wooden bookcases, it is very atmospheric and creates a very “medieval” feeling.

Construction of the library lasted from 1712 to 1732. The hall is almost 65 meters long and contains more than 200,000 books. This library stores at least one copy of any printed edition ever issued in Ireland, including the legendary Book of Kells – a richly illustrated, handwritten book dating back to around 800 AD. It was written by Irish monks and is considered one of the most significant and well-preserved examples of medieval Irish art.

2) Stuttgart City Library, Germany (Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart)

Stuttgart City Library. Photo Credit: suchosch at Flickr.

Designed by Korean architect Eun Young Yi, the Stuttgart City Library is said to be one of the best and most beautiful libraries in Germany. It stores over half a million valuable books and various media. Unreserved admiration excites its innovative aspects of modern design, library facility and programs on reading promotion.

The library building is a monolithic cube with two underground and nine above-ground floors, borrows its style from the Pantheon of ancient Rome in combination with the modern industrial design. The main color of the interior, as well as the outside, is white. The central space is open, and the ladders go around in a circle. Here the books move independently on the shelves, the fingerprint “works” with the reader’s ticket, and the paintings of the famous painters are rented out. All this is available 24 hours a day.

Professionals evaluated the library as a functional and architectural masterpiece – the building was included in the list of 25 most beautiful and seven most original libraries in the world. The cost of its construction amounted to 80 million euros, and the construction of the building had taken almost three years.

3) Chetham’s Library in Manchester, England

Chetham’s Library’s interiors. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This is a lovely library, located right in the middle of Manchester city, with a large collection of ancient books.

The building, which eventually began to be used as a library, was first erected as a home for a local landowner. Then there was a school for boys. A free library appeared here in 1653, when the building was bought by Humphrey Chetham. Later the curators of the library tried to find valuable publications in order to supplement them with an already existing collection. It was the first public library in the United Kingdom. It has a large collection of journals, printed works and various publications, some of which date back to the 16th-17th centuries.

When Marx and Engels studied the development of capitalism in England, repeatedly worked at Chetham’s library. At present, there are over 100 thousands of books. If you are in Manchester now for sightseeing, you should embark on an excursion to the library.

Readers and visitors to the library do not need to pay anything, since here all services are provided completely free of charge.

4) Russian State Library: Moscow, Russia

You can find a great collection of books at Russian State Library. Photo Credit: Russian State Library.

The Russian State Library is the largest public library in the country, one of the largest in the world.

The library was founded in 1862; the collections were filled up at the expense of libraries, the efforts of the urban community, who donated valuable manuscripts and publications. Since 1921, the library has become a state book depository. Three years later, the library was named in honor of Lenin, which up to here well-known.

The construction of the new library building, in which it is located to this day, began in 1924. The architects of the project were Vladimir Gelfreich and Vladimir Shchuko. This is a magnificent example of the architecture of the Stalin Empire.

The main building of the library is located in the heart of Moscow, next to the Kremlin.

5) Mafra Palace Library: Mafra, Portugal

Stunning interior designs. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Mafra Palace is one of the most grandiose palaces in Europe. It was built in the Baroque style. Facade and interior decoration are made of local pink marble. More than 35 thousand old books are kept. To control insects in the library, bats were placed.

The reason for the erection of the palace was the birth of the first child of the royal couple Joan V and Anne of Austria. The construction was carried out from 1711 to 1730 years. It was assumed that it would be the modest Franciscan cloister. The German architect Johann Frederick was appointed to carry out the project of designing this spectacular landmark. In 1910, after the fall of the monarchy, the palace was declared as a national monument.

6) Bibliotheque Nationale de France (National Library of France), Paris

One of the reading room of the library. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Bibliotheque nationale de France – the richest collection of French-language literature in the world and the largest library in France. The Royal Library is located on the famous Rue de Richelieu street, consists of the block of buildings from the XVII-XIX centuries, in which are located the reading rooms, department of drawings and engraving, coins, maps and plans, a cabinet of medals, a archive with a unique collection of manuscripts and ancient books, as well as a bureau of dramatic art.

In the early 2000s, it was decided to renew the library building. The curators of the overhaul were the architects Bruno Gaudin and Virginia Bregal.

Those who love reading books of different kinds and in the mood of exploring historic libraries in the world should pay a visit to this fascinating library.

7) Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland

The library was built by Saint Othmar. Photo Credit: Raphaël Labbé at Flickr.

The library of the monastery of St. Gall is the oldest Swiss, and one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world. But it can boast not only age, but also its appearance – its internal appearance is a classic embodiment of the monastery library, executed in the Rococo style.

Altogether, there are about 160 thousand volumes and the largest collection of ancient books and manuscripts in Europe – about 2100 “publications” dated VIII-XV centuries. Most books published before 1900 are available for visitors, although they are issued in a special reading room and only to those who can prove that he knows how to handle such rarities. Please note taking photograph is strictly prohibited.

8) Clementinum (Klementinum) National Library: Prague, Czech Republic

Awesome architecture! Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Klementinum National Library – the complex of baroque buildings, where once it was a Dominican monastery, which transformed to a Jesuit college in 1556, then it became part of Charles University in 1622, and now it is the National Library of the Czech Republic. The design of this large building complex was performed by outstanding masters of the Habsburg Baroque: Frantisek Maxmilian Kanka, Kilian Ignaz Dincinghofer, and Carlo Lurago.

The name “Clementinum” is closely connected with the name of St. Clement (Clement), in honor of him in the XI century a chapel was erected on this place. The hall of Library, where hundreds of thousands of valuable books are kept, is decorated with ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl. Pictures are placed on the dome of the library, which represents the Temple of Wisdom.

If you look over the windows, then in the triangles you can see the images of famous Jesuits. The library is also decorated with a great collection of terrestrial globes and astronomical clocks. How cool is that! If you ever embark on a trip to Clementinum, don’t forget to pay a visit to the Mirror Chapel, Astronomical Tower, Meridian Hall, and the Baroque library hall.

9) Admont Abbey Library: Admont, Austria

What a library!

Austria is a beautiful country in the central Europe, bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, and Slovakia. Its picturesque alpine landscapes are fascinating to experience, while its historic landmarks are invaluable treasures to hunt for. In the country, one of the highly valued historic landmarks is obviously the Abby Library.

The library is located at the foothills of the Alps. Its hall is almost 230 meters in length, was designed in the late Baroque style by the architect Joseph Hueber in 1776, and contains 200,000 volumes of various literature. You will be very impressed seeing the collection of books it houses and the interior designs it showcases. No matter whenever you visit Austria, a visit to the library would be a great adventure.

10) The Library of El Escorial: San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

When you go there inside the library, you will be speechless. Photo Credit: PromoMadrid at Flickr.

The Royal library – large library of the Renaissance period, founded by King Philip II, and located in the city of San Lorenzo del Escorial (Madrid), is part of the palace and monastery complex of El Escorial.

The library is located in a large hall of the palace, with a marble floor and a fresco ceiling. The library’s library room is a huge hall of 52 meters long, 9 wide and 10 tall. About 40,000 copies of the ancient books are kept in the library.

On 2 November 1984, El Escorial was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, this fascinating landmark is considered to be one of the must-see places in Spain. The library of El Escorial is without question one of the greatest libraries that you could explore in Europe.

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