One of my happiest childhood memories is of spending many happy hours in my local library, getting lost in the stacks and following wherever my curiosity lead me. It’s an experience that is shared by book lovers around the world, and we treasure libraries as sacred places. Well, there are some truly extraordinary libraries out around the world that would be fantastic vacation destinations for my fellow bibliophiles out there.
Here are some of my favorites. Time to dig out my passport.
The Royal Library Copenhagen, Denmark
You can spend many a happy hour in this beautiful neo-Modernist building. It has concert halls, cafes, and massive exhibition spaces. The building is known as the Black Diamond and you can enjoy a novel and a cup of coffee while looking out into the harbor.
This beautiful library in Prague was started by Jesuit priests in the 1600s. It has gilded globes, ancient manuscripts, and stunning murals depicting triumphs of art and science.
New York Public Library (Stephen A. Schwarzman Building)
One of the most iconic libraries in the world, the Schwarzman building located in New York City’s Bryant Park in midtown, is a massive structure that stretches two city blocks. All kinds of tours and exhibitions happen year-round, and the library was used in the famous opening scene from Ghostbusters!
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt
The original legendary library, Alexandria burned down in around 1600 years ago. But the spirit of the place lives on in the magnificent new library at Alexandria. The building hosts a planetarium, academic research center, and a exhibit on the history of Egypt.
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, England
This magical library, which stood in for Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films, is the centerpiece of Oxford University’s academic life. Duke Humphrey’s medieval reading room can be seen as part of a tour, and academics, kings, scholars, and British prime ministers have graced those sacred halls.
Austrian National Library, Vienna
The Roman goddess of wisdom watches over this baroque library and its massive collection of books and extraordinary exhibit of globes from throughout history. Formerly the palace library, it has been opened to the public since the 1920s.
Mortlock Wing State Library, Adelaide, Australia
The clock is the centerpiece of this splendid library. Wound once a week by one of the library staff, the Dent and Sons clock is furnished in wrought iron and gold. This compliments the glass ceiling, which lets natural light into the reading room.
Seikei University Library, Japan
This futurist library in the ultramodern Seikei University has small glass-domed study cubicles called “planets” that you can work in, or you can simply tour the criss-crossing crystal carrels.
Tianjin Binhai Library, China
One of the most amazing modern libraries int he world, the Tianjin Binhai Library in China holds a staggering 1.2 million books. Known as the Eye for its eye-shaped exterior, the building was designed by a team of Dutch and Japanese architects. It has since become a modern marvel often compared to the Guggenheim.
Trinity College Library, Ireland
This old library holds the Book of Kells, a lavishly decorated manuscript containing the 4 books of the New Testament, as well as the Long Room, a massive and magical library with busts of famous authors lining the aisles. The original library dates back to Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1592 and the new building was opened in the 1700s.
Any libraries on your bucket list? Let us know!