Visiting libraries has become my number one thing to do when travelling somewhere new. I guess you could say my obsession with beautiful libraries started with the library in Beauty and the Beast, and has expanded every time I travel and visit a new one. Each trip I find even more impressive libraries around the world!
Marsh’s Library, Dublin
Marsh’s Library in Dublin is Irelands oldest public library and is in the same location as it’s original founding. Tucked away behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral through an unsuspecting door, you’ll stumble across this library where a majority of the books are still in their original leather bindings. Make sure to chat with some of the librarians if they’re available, and read through the plaques in the main hall.
What is most fascinating is that so many of the books went missing that the library that they had to stop lending the books and instead locked people in the room with the book to prevent them from being stolen. Many literary figures did research in the library such as Bram Stoker (author of Dracula, who drew his inspiration from Dublin). Make sure to stop in! Unfortunately I have no pictures to show you but it’s well worth a visit.
National British Library, London
The Sir John Ritblat Gallery is filled with historical documents, ranging from art to music to history to religion to science and everything in between. If you’re a human being, you’ll recognize a lot of the works such as: handwritten lyrics from the Beatles; sketches from Leonardo da Vinci; handwritten notes from Anne Boleyn to her sister; manuscript of Jane Eyre; Johann Gutenberg’s Bible; Jane Austen’s diaries; and the Magna Carta. You’ll be amazed at the history you get to see with your own eyes.
Austrian National Library, Vienna
The biggest Baroque library in Europe, it’s not hard to see why the Austrian National Library is dubbed one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It houses two pairs of the oldest globes.
Canadian Library of Parliament, Ottawa
Unfortunately Centre Block and the Library are ungoing major renovations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the next 10-15 years so tours are currently unavailable but it’s absolutely stunning. The library is the only part of the original Parliament building that burned down in 1916 and it has both the full English and French set of Harry Potter.
Baroque Library, Prague
Unfortunately another library I couldn’t take photos in and is only available to see by tour but it’s stunning! I wish I could have spent more time but, in order to be fair, I got to see it for about a minute before letting someone else take a peak through the door.
Just as soon as I finished this post, Lonely Planet went ahead and posted about their awe-inspiring libraries. I am on the bandwagon!