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10 Travel-Worthy Libraries Around the World

by Angelique Platas

Mar 10, 2020

Cowardlion | Dreamstime.com


Bookworms and avid readers everywhere have their list of must-reads, but what about the many incredible libraries containing them? With so many iconic, historic and truly gorgeous libraries around the world, any family member with the slightest affection for reading (or architecture) can get behind this list.


Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Maybe obvious, sure, but definitely a worthy library for your list. A cultural and historical icon in the United States, the Library of Congress is a national library, the country’s oldest federal cultural institution and consists of three buildings lined with the largest collection of volumes and shelf space — a.k.a. more than 32 million books amid a stunning interior space.


Vatican Library in Vatican City, Rome, Italy

You can bet almost any library in historic Rome will be beautiful, but the Vatican Library is truly something special. Part of the Catholic Church in Rome, the Vatican Library is one of the oldest in the world. First opening in 1475, this space actually dates back to the early days of the Catholic church.


Vatican Library. Photo: Lev Tsimbler | Dreamstime.com


Bodleian Library in Oxford, United Kingdom

It wouldn’t be a complete list of travel-worthy libraries without the iconic Bodleian Library in Oxford. One of the oldest libraries in Europe, Bodleian is home to 11 million items and artifacts, and was even the set of a few famous scenes in Young Sherlock Holmes, The Golden Compass and more.


National Library Of St. Mark’s in Venice, Italy

 Venice offers one of the most unique landscapes in the world, so one could assume any library along the water would be a stunner. Enter the National Library of St. Mark’s. Located in a locale remaining from the Renaissance, this library dates back to 1537, with collection items from the 1400s. This iconic Venetian landmark is as historically significant and architecturally impressive from the inside and it is from the outside.


Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts

If you’re feeling like a late-night study session or want the trying-to-crack-the-case vibe, Boston Public Library is the place. Green-shaded lamps, check. Long communal, wooden tables, check. High arched ceilings with matching arched windows, check. This stunner dates back to the 1800s and checks all the boxes of your kid’s library dreams.


Boston Public Library. Photo: Glenn Nagel | Dreamstime.com


Abbey Library Of Saint Gall in St. Gallen, Switzerland

A complete curve ball on the list in terms of aesthetics, the Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland and named for an abbey of the same name, dating back to 719 —also making this one of the world’s oldest monastery libraries in the world. Picture glass display cases filled with historic manuscripts and lines of books leading up to an ornately decorated ceiling — matched by an equally dazzling floor. Top to bottom, this locale is a true beauty.


Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland

 Also known as the Long Room, Trinity College Library in Dublin is a worthy stop on any book lover’s vacation. Spread over four separate buildings, the Old Library was built in 1592 and is still a top tourist draw in the city to this day.


Reading Room At The British Museum in London, England

Back to the United Kingdom for The Reading Room at the British Museum in London. Located in the center of the Museum’s Great Court with a domed exterior, the interior is incredibly unique. From the papier-mâché ceiling to the Reading Room’s history, once welcoming notable guests including Mark Twain, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde and many others, this spot should be on every literary lover’s list.


Warsaw University Library in Warsaw, Poland 

One of the more modern and unique buildings on our list, Warsaw University Library in Poland’s capital city is an architectural wonder. With pops of color, greenery growing along the walls, domed-glass veiling interior and landscapes to stun, this library is more like a greenhouse-meets-art project than anything else. Check out the seemingly endless aisles of books within, amid a clean-lined room with bright light, contrast against the vibrant green and purple hues of the exterior. Walk along the Library Garden and enjoy the peace and quiet.


Warsaw University Public Library. Photo: Sergio Delle Vedove | Dreamstime.com


New York Public Library in New York, New York

Last, but certainly not least: The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library. Enjoy Bryant Park’s quieter side, with the general research division’s long wooden tables, chandeliers and ornate, stunning ceiling — which could be classified as a work of art. Read by the light pouring in the arched windows, or browse around the library’s many rooms, exhibits and occasional events. Stop at the gift shop or take a picture on the entrance steps. Feel like a local and grab lunch and picnic on a bench with a view.


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