If you’re a book lover, you probably tend to gravitate to public libraries and bookshops when you travel. Whether it’s the scent of old books, the allure of knowledge or the history of grand buildings, there is something tantalizing about seeing how each city chooses to showcase literature. From centuries-old establishments that ooze history to modern, architecturally-impressive facades, there is a variety of interesting library designs around the world. If you can’t get enough of seeing breathtaking book palaces each time you vacation, then read on for five of the most amazing libraries in the world.
The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne landmark and superb example of heritage architecture, the library is made up of 23 buildings and takes up an entire city block. Building construction started in 1854 and the facility features some of the most breathtaking heritage interiors in Melbourne. Considered by many to be one of the greatest libraries in the world, the State Library houses over two million books, hundreds of thousands of maps, manuscripts and newspapers and a variety of digital material. The works contained in the library reflect Victorian culture over the past 150 years and visitors to the institution can take a free guided tour to learn more about the establishment and its history. One of the highlights of the library is the La Trobe Reading Room, which features a stunning domed ceiling. Tourists can also browse two free permanent exhibitions, one of which features famous bushranger Ned Kelly’s armor and the other a history of books. Visitors can play chess, watch films and admire art — the library is home to three free art galleries.
The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark
The Royal Library in Copenhagen is a “must-see” destination in Denmark’s capital. Spread over four sites, it is home to almost all known printed Danish works, including the first book that was published in 1482. While Copenhagen boasts many fine buildings, one of the most impressive is the 1999 extension to the Royal Library that’s known as the Black Diamond. With a black marble and glass exterior and a magnificent interior featuring an eight-story atrium with wave-shaped walls and a huge ceiling fresco, this is a visually stunning library. The Black Diamond wing doubled the size of the original Royal Library, and is connected to it by a number of bridges. The architectural masterpiece leans out over a canal and provides beautiful water views and a peaceful place to get lost in the works of Hans Christian Andersen.
The Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany
Another library with a simple, modern design that has the feel of an art gallery, the Stuttgart City Library is one of Germany’s premier destinations for book lovers. The library has been designed as an intellectual and cultural center for Stuttgart and features a huge, white, four-story central space called the Heart that represents both the spatial and meditative center of the building. Above this core lies a five-story, pyramid-shaped, atrium reading room. The neutral, white-colored design of the interior is designed to showcase books, and indeed the whole library is a stunning architectural wonder that stands out in the city.
The Central Library in Seattle, Washington
With a design that makes it look more like a classy hotel than a library, the Central Library in Seattle features 11 levels and is made from glass and steel. The modern building opened in 2004 and is divided into eight horizontal layers, each with a varying size to fit a relevant function. The Central Library currently houses over one million items and has 9,906 shelves devoted to books — it has a capacity to grow even larger though and will be able to hold 1.45 million books and materials when at capacity.
The Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland
The Trinity College “Old Library” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Dublin and was first constructed in the 18th century. One of the most beautiful libraries in Ireland, it houses the famous Book of Kells, a gospel manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800. The library contains a collection of 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books and features a distinctive barrel ceiling, marble busts of famous authors and philosophers and a central walkway that spans nearly 200 feet.