Being a massive bookworm myself, I don’t just love reading, I love books. I love to buy them, look at them, go to libraries and bookstores etc. all because books are my safe haven, where I feel most like myself. In the next year, I plan to go on a sort of European adventure, partly for university and partly because being cooped up at home these last few years has made me restless and desperate to get out and see the world beyond the one I know here in Australia. So I have put together a list of the most incredible libraries that I have seen on Instagram and Pinterest, that are some of the most historic, beautifully decorated and/or modern places in the world. I am also a huge history buff so I absolutely love to visit places of historical significance like some of the places in the below list…
Biblioteca do Convento de Marfa in Marfa, Portugal
Also known as the Royal Building of Mafra, this palace/monastery built in the neo classical architecture style in Marfa, Portugal. Completed in 1755, this building houses the Rococo Library. The palace library contains over 36,000 historic and priceless leather bound volumes. This already sounds like my kind of place. This This Rococo-style architectural library is only a recent edition to this list because I only found it while researching for this post idea and now it is a definite must-visit on my bucket list whilst I am in Europe.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library
I know this isn’t actually in Europe but I have always dreamt of going to New York and the public library there is definitely on my bucket list. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of 92 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Built in 1897 but was not opened to the public until 1911, this library contains 2.5 million volumes within its shelves. This isn’t your typical local library that houses all the YA books, this one contains various divisions, including the map division and the rare books division.
Abbey Library of St. Gall in St. Gallen, Switzerland
This medieval monastic library holds one of the oldest collections in all of Europe and has the most breath taking interior. Originally this site was just an abbey but the in-house library has continued to grow since around 820 CE. Around for hundreds of years, this library was a leading centre for Western culture and science during the 10th century. The collections were moved to a newly built library was which was built between 1758 and 1767 in a beautifully decorated Baroque rococo style interior. This place is completely beautiful and has so much incredible history that it is definitely a must-see on my library bucket list.
Admont Abbey Library in Admont, Austria
Similar to the Abbey Library of St. Gall, the Admont Abbey Library is also a monastic library. The library is attached to Admont Abbey and to this day is the largest monastic library in the world. Similar to other monastic buildings, it utilises Baroque architecture. Admont Abbey was founded in 1074, but the library that we see today was not built until 1776. The interior of this library rivals some of the most beautiful places in the world; they don’t make them like this anymore.
Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK
The Bodleian Library is the main research library within the University of Oxford. With over 13 million printed items, it is the second largest library in Britain and one of the oldest libraries in Europe. It was officially opened in 1602 and was built in English Gothic architecture. Visiting the University of Oxford has been on my bucket list for some time, but the university’s libraries are definitely one of the main reasons I want to go.
Austrian National Library in Vienna, Austria
The Austrian National Library is the largest library in Austria, housing 12 million items in its collections. Founded in 1368, this Baroque style library was originally founded as the Imperial Court Library in Austria.
Wiblingen Monastery Library in Ulm, Germany
This Baroque style Benedictine monastery was originally founded in 1093, but the library was an addition finalised in 1744. It was actually modelled on the Austrian National Library (above) to demonstrate the Monastery’s attachment to the imperial house. There is definitely a clear similarity between the Austrian National Library and the Wiblingen Monastery Library.
Trinity College Library in Ireland, Dublin
A couple of years ago one of my younger cousins told me that when she is older her dream is to go to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. As a 15 year old, I had never heard of that university, so of course, I googled it and I am so glad I did because it has one of the most beautiful libraries I have ever seen. Originally founded in 1592, this library contains 7 million volumes. The library is mostly well known for housing the Book of Kells (a manuscript in Latin of the four Gospels and some introductory texts to go with it).
Well that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this book-related post. I had so much fun researching all the beautiful libraries around the world, so I hope you find it interesting too! Let me know in the comments if any of these are on your bucket lists too or if you have been to any of them before. Are there any other libraries you would add to your own list?
Stay safe and keep connected,
– Soph xx