If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinkingHaruki Murakami
I’ve done quite a few posts about some of my favorite books, but I realized I never got around to doing part 2 of my original post about incredible libraries around the world. Fixing that now! All of these are open for visitors (double check for cover regulations) and perfect for the book lover who travels.
Let’s face it, people who read books travel every time they open a book, so they’re always up for an adventure. I hope you like these as much as I do. I had a ton of fun researching and will have to do another post in the series because there were so many that I couldn’t fit them all in one post.
Library of El Escorial
Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial. 45 minutes from Madrid.
Why You Need to Visit: This library not only holds literary works of art, but the library itself is a work of art. Built in the 16th century, the library has endured centuries of tourists and bibliophiles. One of the most impressive rooms features 7 enormous frescoes on the ceiling depicting the liberal arts, making the room feel even more welcoming.
Beyond the library itself, this Unesco World Heritage Site also features gardens, a monastery, and pantheons dedicated to former princes and kings.
Admont Abbey Library
Location: Admont, Austria
Why You Need to Visit: If you’re a stickler for detail and you love libraries with deep histories, this is the one for you. The Baroque period exploded all over the design and decoration, but it’s a gorgeous piece of art. Finished in 1776, the architect wanted the building to represent the Enlightenment so all of the rooms are filled with natural light.
The library itself holds 70,000 books and the abbey holds 200,000. The design as well as the age of the books makes this library unique. Manuscripts dating back to 8th century, and nearly every century since, line the walls of this incredible library.
Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore
Location: Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, China
Why You Need to Visit: This bookstore is fantasy come to life. 80,000 books fill this unique space where almost anything goes. Shelves line nearly every inch of the store and the space ascends all the way to the ceiling. Yes, it’s technically not a library, but it’s WAY too cool not to be on this list.
Designed with nature in mind the staircases spiral upwards and arches reflect books upon books, and the zigzagging staircases more closely resemble mountain peaks than manmade architecture. Mirrored ceilings create the atmosphere of a never-ending landscape and I’ve never wanted to visit a bookstore more.
Royal Library of Denmark
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Why You Need to Visit: Books, photos, and more! You’ll get more than you bargained for at this sleek library. Don’t let the sleek exterior fool you, this library has been around since 1648 to house thousands of books over the centuries. In 1999, the library received a makeover aka renovation to its current appearance nicknamed the ‘Black Diamond’.
The first known Danish books resides here as well as many other Danish literary works of art. When you’re finished perusing the books and learning its history you can also check out the photography museum, performance hall, cafe, and the famous abstract fresco donning one of the ceilings.
Cardiff Central Library
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Why You Need to Visit: Everything about this library just exudes a love of books. The exterior is paneled with colored glass to make the library’s exterior look like a shelf of books. There’s even a sculpture, named the Alliance, in front of the entrance that memorializes the city’s journey from past to present and lights up every night with Welsh and English sayings and words projected onto it.
Inside are open floor plans, a cultural venue, and, of course, tons of books you can read while gazing over incredible views of the city. The building also boasts an extremely high sustainability rating, making it an example for the rest of the world with its sustainable development, energy and water efficient services. Yes, please!
Beitou Public Library
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Why You Need to Visit: Printing books isn’t a sustainable practice, but this library made sure to offset that by building on of the most sustainable libraries in the world. Beitou Public Library is ultra-green in every sense of the word. The building is covered in foliage and other live plants and its design keeps energy and water consumption at the bare minimum.
Once inside you can choose your book and cozy up in a rocking chair on one of its balconies to relax, view the city, and listen to the comforting sound of the mountain spring bubble past.
Location: Alexandria, Egypt
Why You Need to Visit: Once home to arguably the most famous library of all time, Alexandria now honors the past with its new library in Alexandria. This library is a memorial to its past and an attempt to rejuvenate the spirit of learning that the area once was renowned for. Inside there is shelf space for 8 million books. Those that occupy the space now are in many different languages, including a 500,000 book donation from France.
The exterior design pays tribute to its ancient roots with a circular structure resembling a sun dial and carved characters from over 120 different languages. Not only is this structure a library but the entire complex is dedicated to learning with 15 permanent exhibitions, specialized areas and labs, four art galleries, restoration capabilities, museums, and a planetarium.
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Why You Need to Visit: Let’s start with the exterior. This library is where nature and books meet and I’m so here for it. The library sits in 38,000 square meters of sprawling gardens. The structure itself features transparent walls, allowing visitors to see inside before they ever step foot through its doors.
Inside you’ll be able to peruse 470,000 books. The plot twist? All of the shelves are hanging, giving it a fantasy-inspired look that you won’t really find anywhere else. The floors are also see through and the library is filled with interesting objects, like a whale skeleton.