A Top Ten of Libraries Around the World

After visiting this beautiful library in Prague I wanted to find out where else I could visit so I've collected together a top ten of libraries for my bucket list.

1. The Klementinum Library, Prague, Czech Republic

Apparently the world's most beautiful library.

Start with this unforgettable place and discover some of the other incredible libraries around the world. I just want to curl up with a copy of Patrick Ness' incredible Chaos Walking series and spend a few days lost in my own little world.

Unfortunately, you aren't allowed inside this remarkable room so I had to stand at the door, take photos and just look at this beautiful place. Now to recreate this in the spare room at home. Simple, right?

The rest of these libraries aren't necessarily the best in the world but they are pretty beautiful and I'd certainly like to visit any one of these.

2. The Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin

Photo by Skitterphoto

Home to the beautifully illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells (also known as the Book of Columba), The Old Library is an architectural masterpiece in Trinity College, Ireland. The real prize is The Long Room built in the 1700s and with over 200,000 of the library's oldest books, making it one of the most impressive libraries in the world. Step foot in this incredible room and you could easily lose hours browsing the old worlde treasures on the shelves.

Trinity College Library is open to the public and you can get tickets for a tour to see the 9th-century Gospel book. Here's a link to the Trinity College Book of Kells pdf where you can view the detailed imagery and read the ancient text online before paying this library a visit.

3. Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

Photo by Gabriel Sollmann

A seemingly M. C. Escher-inspired library with books on all sides, this bright white perfect cube was designed by Yi Architects who won a competition to build this 1999 masterpiece. There are quiet areas on every floor of the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart where you can read and write, not to mention a cafe, reading room and roof terrace from which you can take in spectacular views across the Stuttgart town quarter.

Climb the circular (or rather square) route up the staircase known as the 'Heart' or simply allow the lift to whisk you all the way up to the eighth floor to reach the roof. Once you have marvelled over the panorama, retreat back into the comfort of the library.

4. Rijksmuseum Research Library, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Photo by Will van Wingerden

Collecting books, catalogues, periodicals and annual reports since 1885, this library refers to itself as a museum. If you ever visit Amsterdam on a city break, why not cycle through the flat and colourful streets to the Rijksmuseum Research Library like a true local and investigate the old tomes lining the shelves?

5. Library@Orchard, Singapore

Photo by mentatdgt

Another modern structure with white walls and curved shelving, Library@Orchard was built a couple of years ago and although its not the largest library in Singapore (that accolade goes to the National Library) it is quite possible the most stylish and is often referred to as 'hipster haven'.

Library@Orchard has ever-changing displays that are called Book Trees and regularly hosts events and exhibitions. Wander the curved isles and find a quiet corner to curl up and read.

6. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Photo by Ivo Rainha

Technically a book shop, and one of the most beautiful in the world, Livraria Lello was opened by two brothers, José and António Lell, in 1906 and has become a cultural space and Mecca for booklovers everywhere. This library is in the centre of colourful Porto in Portugal fits in nicely with its magnificent stained glass windows and decorative wood panelling. Visit Livraria Lello to see the iconic red staircase.

7. Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York, United States

Photo by Oscar Ovalle

The magnificent Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is part of four that makes up the New York Public Library. Sit on one of the long benches and feel like you've stepped into the Harry Potter books as one of the students scribbling away on your parchment in the Great Hall.

8. The Reading Room at Chateau de Chantilly, Chantilly, France

Photo by Gabriel Ghnassia

Designed by architect Honoré Daumet at the end of the 19th century to house the Duke of Aumale's rare book collection, it now houses over 60,000 volumes and is structurally stunning.

A few remarkable tomes are available for viewing while many ancient manuscript are not available in order to preserve their pages, although you can view digital versions freely. If you can tear yourself away from the fantastic displays at the library make sure to explore the rest of the beautiful chateau and gardens.

9. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Photo by Agathe Marty

Established 1854, the State Library of Victoria is Australia's oldest public library and one of the world's first free libraries - and it's pretty epic.

With so much going on including exhibitions, talks and lectures, special evenings, events for children, education and entrepreneur programmes and regular art, writing and photo competitions, this place is all about reaching out and getting everyone involved. If you aren't likely to be attending one of their events any time soon, they have plenty of ways that you can connect online.

10. Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, Wales

Photo by Michael D Beckwith

A 'residential' library - yes. you can sleep surrounded by books! It was founded by 17th century prime minister, William Gladstone, and has an ever evolving programme of courses of events run by a wide variety of writers and thinkers. If you enjoy reading, writing and being inspired by beautiful libraries and like-minders thinkers then take a trip to to Gladstone's Library. When you need a breath of fresh air you can walk the grounds of the exquisite Hawarden Estate.

Which would you visit?

Looking into these impressive libraries was great fun and I hope I get to make a trip to one soon. Have you visited any of these? I'd love to get your insight on these places so comment and let me know!

If you've like to read about my trip, it's incredibly vain of me to think you would but it may give you some insights if you plan to visit, then read my post on Perfect Places in the City of Prague.

#stories #books #libraries #travel

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