There are few things I love more than books and traveling, and any opportunity I have to combine the two is a like a literary dream come true. That's why I've started to create a bucket list of the most beautiful libraries in the world that I want to see before I die. From the emerald shores of Ireland to the palaces of India and even right here in the good old U.S. of A., these breathtaking bookshelves will blow any bibliophile's mind.
Beautiful pillars of enlightenment and mankind's accomplishments throughout time, libraries are essential institutions filled with more than just books and stories — they're magical buildings overflowing with wonder, adventure, knowledge, and inspiration. They're places of comfort and familiarity, of history and learning, of creativity and imagination. They're safe havens for readers of all ages, information hubs for the curious, active centers for community members, and essential cultural resources for the world. Not to mention, they are some of the most visually stunning works of architecture around the world.
If you ever dream of getting lost in the stacks all day, here are 15 of the world's most beautiful libraries to help you do just that. Get your passport ready, because after seeing these stunning locations, you're going to want to start crossing these off your own bucket list.
1State Library of New South Wales, Australia
With history dating all the way back to 1826, the State Library of New South Wales is one of the oldest, not to mention most beautiful, libraries in Australia. It started as a small subscription library for colonials in the 1820s, but was taken over by the government in 1869, who has run it every since.
2Trinity College Library, Ireland
The library at Trinity College dates back to the school's founding in 1952. Today, it houses over 6 million printed volumes, including journals, manuscripts, music, maps, and more. Among its most famous items is the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, which are over 400 years old.
3Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France
Recently renovated, the Bibliothèque nationale de France is home to over 14 million books and printed materials. Established in 1461, the library has been expanded and improved over the years, but it still retains its classic and breathtaking look.
4Library of El Escorial, Spain
The historical residence of the King of Spain, the library of El Escorial is part of a royal site that is home to a monastery, palace, museum, hospital, library, and more. Completed in 1592, the library and other buildings on the complex feature incredible artwork from notable Spanish and Italian artists of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Daylight streams through the cast-iron spiral staircases in the magnificent Handelingenkamer library (Netherlands). pic.twitter.com/20QA94HDTZ— Culture Trip (@CultureTrip) July 17, 2016
Featuring spiral staircases, sky lights, and talented ironwork, Handelingenkamer, or the "Old Library," looks like something straight out of a bookish fairy tale. Built in the 19th century before electricity was in use, the library's architect designed a leaded glass dome roof that allowed light to filter through the space, so candles and lamps could be kept away from the buildings collection of over 100,000 volumes.
6Wiblingen Monastery Library, Germany
Founded in 1093 and renovated in 1714, the library at Wiblingen Monastery is one of the most exceptional examples of Rococo architecture in Germany. Featuring breathtaking ceiling fresco, beautiful statues, and gorgeous ornamental details, it's unlike anything you've ever seen.
7The George Peabody Library, Baltimore
The United States has its fair share of beautiful libraries, but the George Peabody Library in Baltimore stands out among the rest for it's spectacular design and dramatic interior views. A research library of Johns Hopkins University, this Instagram-worthy location is a popular spot for reading, research, and weddings.
8Beitou Library, Taiwan
The amazing and splendid "Taipei public library Beitou branch" •《臺北市立圖書館北投分館》. 📚📖✒ pic.twitter.com/zQGuEYkMIM— Damien Gautier 宋浩鵬 (@Calligramien) March 19, 2016
It may be on the smaller side, but the Beitou Library of Taiwan is stunning in its own way. A branch of the Taipei public library system, this bright and natural building was erected in 2006 as the state's first "green" library.
9Nakajima Library, Akita International University, Japan
Another awe-inspiring library in Asia, the Nakajima Library at Akita International University is known for being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It's domed roof crafted from cedar timber nod to the buildings "Book Coliseum."
10Library of the San Francisco Monastery, Peru
Saint Francis Monastery located in Lima, Peru. The library possesses about 25,000 books and manuscripts.— Bibliophilia (@Libroantiguo) June 17, 2016
If this monastery library in Peru doesn't give you Hogwarts vibes, nothing will. Featuring gorgeous spiral staircases, unique tiled floors, and 25,000 volumes of centuries-old texts, this room will make you feel the power of books.
11Central Library of Vancouver, Canada
Because a simple library isn't enough, Vancouver created an entire Library Square that occupies a full city block in the city's downtown neighborhood. Not only does this Roman-inspired structure house 1.3 million books and documents, but it also features reading and study areas, bridges, skylit wells, and a glass roof.
12Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, Chile
Discover the secrets that Chile's National Library holds behind its walls (via erickjossemar / IG) pic.twitter.com/h7c1RKaxxU— ThisisChile.cl (@thisisChile) February 20, 2017
Located in Santiago, Chile's national library is a bookish sight to behold. It's beautiful hall room features tiled floors, stained glass skylights, and delicate marble details that make you feel like you're in another time and place.
13John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, England
Speaking of going to another time and place, transport yourself to a magical bookish world when you step foot into John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester. Designed in a neo-Gothic style, the building's dark corridors and hidden nooks will give you all the feels.
14Mafra National Palace Library, Portugal
Best known for its unique practice of using homing bats to protect books against the threat of damaging silverfish, the Mafra National Palace library in Portugal is as beautiful as it is interesting. Built by a king who promised to create a library if his wife gave him children, this Rocco structure features artful tiles, wooden bookshelves, and plenty of balconies for interior sightseeing.
15Biblioteca Marciana, Venice
One of the earliest surviving public manuscript collections in Italy, the Biblioteca Marciana is as gorgeous as it is culturally important. Housing over one million printed books and tens of thousands of manuscripts and other printed works, this stunning location should be on every library-lover's bucket list.