10 of the Most Beautiful Libraries Around the World
Don't judge a book by its cover, they said; the same goes for libraries around the world. Others may come off simple on the outside, but inside tells a beautiful story. From ancient and modern architectural masterpieces, get lost and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of books as you escape reality with ten beautifully curated libraries across the globe.
1/10 The Morgan Library and Museum, United States
Located in the heart of New York City, this landmark includes a library, museums, performance halls, and is home to financier JP Morgan's private book collection. The bronzed bookcases in the library also hold the original manuscripts of Sir Walter Scott and Honoré de Balzac. It is also home to a large collection of prints, drawings, and incunabula of European artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt to name a few.
2/10 Stuttgart City Library, Germany
Modern, minimalist, and aesthetically pleasing, these are just a few words to describe the Stuttgart City Library. Opened in 2011, the place, which resembles an inverted pyramid, offers a unique venue to read with its open space and staircases connecting the multi-storied library.
3/10 Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
Built in 1679, the Strahov Monastery Library played an important role in the Czech history and is home to several thousands of prints made between the 16th and 18th centuries. Known for its breathtaking biblical frescoes, the library has two halls: the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall, which are all splendidly decorated.
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4/10 Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Be in awe by its Baroque-style architecture. The Admont Abbey Library is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in the world. It is home to 70,000 volumes and white and gold interiors are adorned with frescoes and sculptures by two great artists of the Baroque period, Bartolomeo Altomonte and Joseph Stammel.
5/10 Tianjin Binhai Library, China
Dubbed as "The Eye" due to the sphere in the middle of the library as well as its unique view from the outside that resembles a giant eye, this five-level library is designed by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV and is home to 200,000 books. There's just one catch: most of the books are in fact printed images of book spines that fill the top-most shelves of the library, making the illusion it is full to the brim.
6/10 Stockholm Public Library, Sweden
Designed by famed Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund and established in 1928, Stockholm Public Library is a city icon most recognisable for its cylindrical structure. Asplund was best known as one of the key representatives of the Nordic Classicism style in the 1920s, and the Stockholm Public Library was a prototypical example of the movement. The public library is also the first in Sweden with open shelves to give visitors freedom of access without assistance from staff, a concept inspired by American libraries.
7/10 The Library of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
The Library of Trinity College Dublin comprises several library buildings, but the most notable has got to be the Old Library, designed by Thomas Burgh and constructed between 1712 and 1732. The Old Library houses the magnificent 200-foot Long Room, decorated with marble busts of famous philosophers and writers by sculptor Peter Schemakers. It holds 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books in its oak bookcases, as well as historical artefacts and manuscripts, like the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrowーpresented by Henry Jones, Bishop of Meathーand the Brian Boru harp, one of three remaining medieval Gaelic harps.
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8/10 Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
Beneath a striking facade of Aswan granite walls carved with characters from 120 different scripts lies an equally stunning interior, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina sits on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt, next to a large reflecting pool. A homage to The Great Library of Alexandriaーonce considered one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, the library and cultural centre has shelf space for eight million books and also houses a conference centre, four museums, four art galleries, 15 permanent exhibitions, a planetarium and a manuscript restoration laboratory.
9/10 Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico
Also known as the Megabiblioteca (mega-library) in Mexico, the unique design of Biblioteca Vasconcelos' asymmetrically stacked bookshelves and balconies, as well as transparent walls, exudes the illusion of levitating bookcases in a futuristic labyrinth. Adding to its sense of wonder is a permanent art installation by Gabriel Orozcoーthe skeleton of a whale that hovers over the library's central hall. The library was designed by the Mexican architects Alberto Kalach and Juan Palomar.
10/10 Tama Art University Library, Japan
The Tama Art University Library in Tokyo, Japan consists of two academic libraries on two campuses, but it is the newer Hachioji Library that has caught most attention for its architecture. Designed by architecture firm Toyo Ito & Associates, which won the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the Hachioji Library is recognised as an architectural achievement for its concept, which complements its physical location and accommodates the natural sloping surfaces of its landscape. Completed in 2007, its modern design remains timeless, with concrete arches, glass walls, and minimalist furniture.