As a wanderlust and a bookworm, I would always find ways to combine these two when I travel. I would visit museums and libraries of countries I go to because I find learning about the country’s history (past) and knowledge (current) would allow me to understand and love the country more. Maybe my interest is not shared by every traveller and book lover out there, but I just find something poignant in libraries – especially when they are housed in older buildings or historical sites.
In this article, let’s see some of the world’s beautiful libraries and share with me how many stars (out of 5) would you rate them.
- Admont Abbey
Stift Admont or Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located on the Enns River, in the town of Admont, Austria. The monastery was founded in 1074 whereas the largest library hall was commissioned by Abbot Matthäus Offner and completed in 1776. Adorned with seven pastel cupola frescoes, the ceilings were painted by then 80-year old Bartolomeo Altomonte (1694 – 1783) between 1775 and 1776. Look at the frescoes and you will see depictions of the human understanding, from thought and speech to sciences and arts and finally, the Divine Revelation.
This library holds more than 70,000 volumes while the Abbey itself houses nearly 200,000 books. Some of the most valuable manuscripts total to about 1,400 dated as old as the 8th century AD and 530 incunabula which are books printed before 1500. Can you borrow some books from the library?
You can check out the Ticket prices and Opening times but if you’re not in Austria (nor planning to go there anytime soon), there’s also a 3D tour of the establishment priced at a one-time fee of €1.49
- Munich Municipal Law Library
This German literary treasure is located in the city’s Neues Rathaus (or New Town Hall). Built between 1867 and 1908 by Georg von Hauberrisser in a Gothic Revival architecture style, the library was meant to resemble a bright warm forest with its vine-inspired metal railings and staircase. This library is open to the public but the books are filled with law books so if you’re not a lawyer yourself (or studying the law), you probably wouldn’t have any use for the books available.
Still, it’s not a crime to drop by and take photos of the library’s interior!
- Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading
Known in Portuguese as Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, this is a library and a lusophone cultural institution. Founded in 1837, it is located in Luís de Camões Street, number 30, in the middle of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was opened by 43 Portuguese immigrants and political refugees to promote culture among the community.
The architectural style is of the exuberant Gothic Renaissance whereas the interior is influenced by the Neo-Manueline style. There are about 350,000 volumes of work both national and foreign being housed in this building. For now, the library is open to the public and no appointments beforehand are needed. Visit the website (translated) for more info.
- The Library of Trinity College Dublin
The Library of Trinity College Dublin was established in 1592, along with the founding of Trinity College. It serves as a library to Trinity College and the University of Dublin. It is also known as a “copyright library” which means publishers in Ireland must deposit a copy of all their publications here, free of charge. It is the only Irish library to hold such right in the whole of the United Kingdom.
The famous “Long Room” is in the main chamber of the Old Library, measured 65 metres long. This room was built between 1712 and 1732 and now houses 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. In total, the whole library has about 7,000,000 volumes of books, newspapers, magazines, journals, recordings, databases, sounds and music, maps, prints and manuscripts.
The library was usually open to all staff, students, students from other universities and members of the public. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the library is only currently open for its staff and students.
- Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences
The Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences is located in Görlitz, Germany. It is the largest library in Görlitz housing about 150,000 volumes, making it the most important regional library between Dresden and Wrocław. Lawyer, historian and linguist, Karl Gottlob Anton (1751-1818) and the landlord and natural scientist Adolf Traugott von Gersdorff (1744–1807) founded this library in 1779. The founders and their members believe in logic and researches entered on the faculty of reason and scientific disciplines. This is why the books that can be found at this library are mostly on natural science, grammar and linguistic, encyclopedia and historic literature.
- The Morgan Library & Museum
Located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as a personal library to the famous J.P. Morgan, or more commonly known as Pierpont Morgan back in the day. The financier, collector and cultural benefactor began to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books and old master drawings and prints from as early as 1890. The library was then founded in 1906.
Currently, the library has over 350,000 volumes and is open to the public. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, anyone above 12 years old who would like to use the library or join a guided tour would need to show proof of at least 1 shot of the Covid-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the FDA or World Health Organisation.
- Braidense National Library
The Braidense National Library or Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Italian was originally known as Biblioteca di Brera. Founded in 1770 by Maria Theresa of Austria because she wanted to make the collections she received from Carlo Pertusati available to the public. The library was officially opened in 1786. In addition to Carlo Pertusati’s collection, the library also kept collections from Collegio Braidense and of the Jesuit houses of San Fedele and San Girolamo.
The goal of the library was to become “the ideal library”, which is why today it had priceless collections of over 1,500,000 volumes in its possession. The library has been open to the public since 1786 and is an extraordinary place of cultural exchange.
Aliza M. is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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