Books & Art

12 Beautiful Libraries That Every Bibliophile Must Visit Before They Die

Each one is a bibliophile’s dream.
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Any bibliophile knows that a library is far more than just a storage space for books. Libraries are gateways to knowledge, empathy, and culture, bringing us into contact with a wealth of outlooks, and transporting us to worlds that we had often never known before. 

Much to the Filipino bookworms’ dismay, we’ve yet to experience the same accessibility to public libraries that those from other countries so enviably get to enjoy. In the meantime, we can content ourselves with dreaming and yearning—two things that readers know how to do best—and gaze lustfully at the beautiful libraries that exist across the globe.

With that, read along to see some of the best libraries in the world. Apart from being portals to all of the world's knowledge, they’re also some of the greatest architectural accomplishments of all time. 

1| State Library Victoria, Australia

Standing tall and proud in the city of Melbourne, the State Library Victoria takes up an entire block and was one of the first free public libraries in the world. Its collections honor the history of the indigenous communities in Victoria, and its interiors feature an octagonal-domed ceiling, fluted columns, and chocolate brown wood, among other fine details. 

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2| Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a commemoration of the ancient Library of Alexandria—the largest and most significant library of its time, burned down by Julius Caesar in 48 BC. Bold and contemporary, its circular form is an ode to the cyclical nature of knowledge, while its glistening, tilted roof recalls the ancient Alexandrian lighthouse. 

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3| Stuttgart City Library, Germany

The Stuttgart City Library is a vision in white, perpetually bathed in sunlight and enlivened with color from its kaleidoscopic books. Designed as a perfect cube, the 9-story building features three main rooms, each representing a basic idea behind modern library architecture: information, contemplation, and communication.

4| The Library of Trinity College, Ireland

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The library of the oldest university in Ireland was founded by Queen Elizabeth I, a site that fans of Normal People will surely recognize. The Long Room, as seen in the photo above, has been said to be the most beautiful room in Ireland. 

5| Beitou Public Library, Taiwan 

Photo by Wikimedia Photos.
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Built from wood and surrounded by lush greenery, the Beitou Public Library is a  breathtaking oasis amid the bustling city of Taipei. As Taiwan’s first eco-friendly library, it features rooftop solar cells, rainfall capturing and storage systems, and over 63,000 books that include a large collection on ecological conservation. 

6| Starfield Library, Korea

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A massive, modern space of white and glass, the Starfield Library of Seoul looks incredibly good in photos, with all its bookshelves standing at a whopping 13 meters tall. More of a cultural site than a traditional library, the space is always brimming with the energy of enthusiastic Seoulites, who take pleasure in both the beautiful architecture and the warmth of each other’s company. 

7| Library of Parliament, Canada

Photo by Wikimedia Photos.

The Library of Parliament is the knowledge center of the Canada Parliament, decorated with thousands of carvings of flowers, masks, and mythical beasts. Spacious and lofty, it embraces the use of galleries and alcoves and is a fine example of the Gothic revival architectural style.

8| Château de Chantilly, France

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Photo by Courtesy of Chateau de Chantilly.

The story of the Château de Chantilly’s Reading Room begins with the last son of France, the Duke of Aumale—also known as the most passionate bibliophile of his time. The Duke had a penchant for ancient, rare, and precious literature, and so the Reading Room was designed at the end of the 19th century to showcase the manuscripts of his treasures.

9| Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany

Photo by Courtesy of Wiblingen Monastery Library.
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The Wiblingen Monastery Library is considered to be one of the greatest examples of Rococo architecture and Baroque craftsmanship in history. Built inside a pavilion, every inch of the library is covered in elaborate decoration, painted in a rich mix of golds, pinks, and blues.

10| St. Catherine’s Monastery, Egypt

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Established in 565, the Greek Orthodox monastery on Mount Sinai is the oldest continuously operating library on the planet. It houses a huge collection of ancient manuscripts, as well as precious icons, mosaics, and priceless liturgical objects.

11| The Black Diamond, Denmark

Photo by Laura Stamer.
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Also known as the Royal Library, the Black Diamond is one of the most important architectural landmarks on the waterfront of Copenhagen. The library gets its name from its striking design: clad in polished black granite, the building’s glittering surface creates a gorgeous reflection of the sky and the sea. 

12| The Cuypers Library, Netherlands

The Netherlands’ largest and oldest art historical library finds its home in the famous Rijksmuseum museum. Cuypers Library has been loading its shelves with an infinite amount of books on anything and everything about art history since 1885—paradise on earth for the art enthusiast.

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