The best libraries in the world are earthly paradises for keen book lovers! Nothing beats the feeling of escaping into a new book and reading can be almost as rewarding as travel itself. But, if you want to combine your two loves, why not discover some of the best libraries in the world on your travels? From incredible state libraries to historic reading rooms, discover the most amazing libraries around the world to visit on your next cultural trip!
Library of Alexandria – Egypt
A commemoration of the lost library of Alexandria from ancient times, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is located in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. In memory of what was once the largest and most important library in the ancient world, today the Library of Alexandria is an impressive modern building, holding up to 8 million works. Opened in 2002, the library is also home to a vast reading room, museums and art galleries. The story goes that a blaze ignited during the civil war of Julius Caesar destroyed the ancient Library of Alexandria. Although, there is still much speculation over the true fate of this beacon of ancient learning. Whether you’re a history buff or a book lover, today’s modern Library of Alexandria is a must-visit!
Bodleian Library – Oxford, England
One of the oldest libraries in Europe, the Bodleian is the main research library for the prestigious University of Oxford. Home to more than 11 million books, it’s famous as the home of the Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Unlike other libraries, the Bodleian is a reference-only library, meaning books cannot be removed from the building for personal use. Spread across five buildings, the most striking is the circular Radcliffe Camera building, a beautiful neo-classical masterpiece. Only after reciting an ancient oath are Oxford permitted to use the library for research purposes. Surely, one of the best libraries in the world, Bodleian opened in 1602.
National Library of Russia – St. Petersburg, Russia
The first national library in Russia, this book-lovers paradise is considered one of the most important in the world. Established in the late 18th-century by Catherine the Great, the creation of the National Library of Russia was a result of the Russian Enlightenment. Home to a comprehensive collection of Russian-language works, highlights include ancient illuminated manuscripts and rare Slavic and religious texts. Open to the public since its inauguration, the national library of Russia is a must-see for anyone with even the slightest interest in Russian literature, history or religion.
Trinity College Library – Dublin, Ireland
In the heart of Dublin lies the legendary Trinity College Library. Famously home to the ‘Book of Kells’, this historic library is an important tourist attraction. An illuminated manuscript, The ‘Book of Kells’ contains four gospels of the New Testament. In fact, the complexity and beauty of its illustrations have made it one of the most important examples of traditional Christian iconography. Part of the ‘Old Library’collection, walking through the grand Long Room and admiring the polished wooden bookshelves is an unforgettable experience for any bibliophile! Undoubtedly, one of the best libraries in the world.
Vatican Library – Vatican City, Italy
Dating back to 1475, the Vatican Library is one of the oldest in the world. Indeed, there’s no better place on earth to discover the most important manuscripts in history, ranging from religious texts to works on law, philosophy and science. Despite the incredible value of its contents, anyone can access the works here provided they can prove their research needs. Home to more than 1.1 million books and 75,000 manuscripts, some of the most precious items in the Vatican Library include the oldest complete manuscript of the bible and a selection of one-of-a-kind texts for early civilisations around the world.
Rijksmuseum Library – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Art aficionado? Then be sure to visit the famous Rijksmuseum Library in Amsterdam. Dedicated almost entirely to art history, this beautiful collection is housed within the museum of the same name. With a glass-roofed reading room, it’s the perfect place to lose yourself in the incredible works of the Dutch Masters. Alternatively, why not delve deeper into the Renaissance works of Italy? Home to an incredible 400,000 volumes, the library is open to the public for reference only.
So, now you know the best libraries in the world, which one do you want to visit first? Searching for your next inspiring getaway? Discover our latest trips on our official website: