It’s hard to find really beautiful libraries these days. Many, at least in the U.S., seem to be bland, square brick buildings, built more for function than for form.
But there are still historic, grand temples of knowledge out there to visit (if we’re lucky enough to be able to travel). Here are 7 of the most beautiful libraries in the world:
1. Biblioteca Classense – Ravenna, Italy
The main hall of the Biblioteca Classense was constructed in the 1700s and holds over 800,000 volumes.
2. Rijksmuseum Research Library – Amsterdam
This research library was constructed in 1885 by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and contains 450,000 volumes.
3. Biblioteca Do Convento De Mafra – Mafra, Portugal
This library is now a museum and was founded in 1717.
4. Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura – Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The name translates to “the Royal Portuguese Office of Reading”, and the building dates back to the 1880s. This library also holds the largest collection of Portuguese works outside of Portugal.
5. Strahovská Knihovna – Prague, Czech Republic
Parts of this building date back to the 1600s.
6. Bibliothéque Sainte-Geneviéve – Paris, France
This Paris library is now part of a university and contains 2 million holdings. The building dates to the mid-1800s.
7. Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen – St. Gallen, Switzerland
This public reference library contains 170,000 volumes, and some of the collection is old enough to have survived a 10th-century fire. The building was designed in the 1700s by Austrian architect Peter Thumb.