These libraries take reading to a whole new level. Not only are they home to some of the most incredible literature the world has to offer, but they are themselves works of art.
You’ll find yourself constantly looking up from your book to gaze at their painted ceilings or even down at their cherry floors. You can find such libraries all around the world, but here are some of our favorites.
Library Of Parliament, Ottawa
This library was designed in a Victorian Gothic Revival style in 1867, right in Canada’s capital. Its walls are carved with fine detail, leading up to a big vaulted ceiling. The cultural and architectural beauty is covered in parquet flooring made of cherry, oak, and walnut.
Admont Abbey Library, Admont, Austria
This beautiful library has been attached to the oldest remaining monastery in Styria since it opened in 1776. Within it, you can find the largest monastic library in the world. It was designed by Bartolomeo Altomonte and Joseph Stammel, two artists of the Baroque period, who gave it a white and gold themed interior.
Klementinum National Library, Prague
This library, built in 1722, was first made for a Jesuit university, but is now home to 20,000 volumes of foreign theological literature. Surrounding its books are amber and gold spiral pillars and beautifully painted ceilings, all done by Jan Hiebl.
The Library Of El Escorial, Spain
This library was first commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It features a series of seven frescoes that depict the liberal arts like music, rhetoric, astronomy, which is quite impressive.
Biblioteca Do Convento De Mafra, Mafra, Portugal
The hall of this library extends a whole 88 meters. Along its sides are two floors of bookshelves filled with 36,000 leather-bound volumes. The library, with its rose, gray and white marble, is the highlight of the palace of Mafra.
Seattle Central Library, Washington
This library was designed in a modern, unorthodox architectural style. It looks like a bunch of floating boxes framed in steel and covered in glass.
Its look challenges the quiet and artistic usual design of libraries. In fact, when it opened in 2004, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the year’s top architectural designs.
Tama Art University Library, Tokyo
Rather than over-the-top detail, this library features a minimalist modern style. It was completed in 2007 with glass walls, concrete arches, and organized rows of computers. Yet, its grayscale gives it still an ancient, sleek look to hold its 100,000 books.
Stuttgart City Library, Germany
The library is shaped like an upside-down pyramid with nine floors of open reading rooms. The surfaces are all white, which allows the thousands of shelved books to give it a pop of color along with its blue seating couches.
Trinity College Library, Dublin
This the largest library in Ireland and dates back to the 17th century. In 1661, Henry Jones gifted it with the Book of Kells, which remains its most famous manuscript today. The building took 20 years to be complete and now towers over Trinity College and Dublin.
Abbey Library Of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland
This library dates all the way back to 719 AD, with some books being over 1,000 years old. Its design was updated in Rococo style in the 18th century with beautiful woodwork and painted ceilings.
Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio De Janeiro
Both the interior and exterior of this library are stunning. The interior features a blue, white, and red glass window ceiling that overlooks a marble altar with beautiful gold and ivory walls. It looks like a book sanctuary.
Library Of Alexandria, Egypt
This library was originally burnt down by Julius Ceaser in antiquity. The library was rebuilt as closely as possible to historical descriptions in circular granite form, and its exterior is covered in carvings.
Biblioteca Joanina, Portugal
This library was built in the 18th century, during the reign of King John I of Portugal. It is one of only two libraries in the world where the books are protected from insects by bats that enter it at night. It is then cleaned in the morning before visitors come in.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore
This library is often referred to as Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books.” Peabody dedicated the library to the people of Baltimore for their “kindness and hospitality.” It opened in 1878 and features five floors of ornate balconies over white marble flooring.
Central Public Library, Vancouver
This library was modeled after the Roman Colosseum. Its nine floors hold over half a million items including newspapers, DVDs, CDs, and ebooks, but you can also find shops, cafés, and offices. There’s also a garden on the rooftop that’s open to all.
Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
This library looks like an ancient cathedral on the outside and was in fact built in the 14th century. In it, you can find 12 million volumes, including some great work like Shakespear’s first folio and On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
This library can be found right in the heart of New York City. It used to be multimillionaire J.P. Morgan’s personal library. It is spread out among three buildings. The bookcases are all bronzed and hold original manuscripts of Sir Walter Scott and Balzac. It even has secret passageways.
Austrian National Library, Vienna
This library was built by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach along with his son Johann Emmanuel in 1735 and holds more than 12 million items today. The library is only one out of the Imperial Palace’s 2,600 rooms! Some of the other rooms are now used as a museum.
Rampur Raza Library, India
This library building was first built as a mansion for Nawab Hamid Ali Khan until the 1950s. Today, the library is home to a collection of Indian and Asian works along with Islamic calligraphy and manuscripts.
Tianjin Binhai Library, China
This library only opened in 2017, but it gained viral popularity thanks to its futuristic design, which attracts over 10,000 visitors per day. The library takes the form of a big luminous sphere called “The Eye,” in an auditorium. The books are shelved from the floor all the way to the ceilings.