Truly novel tourist attractions!

Inside the world’s most incredible libraries, from Hogwarts-style galleries to gold-leaf monasteries

  • Some are fascinating old halls with wooden ladders and mesmerising ceilings that are hundreds of years old
  • One of the most beautiful is Prague’s Clementinum library, featuring baroque halls, globes and ornate balconies
  • Bibliotheque Joanine shimmers with dazzling gold, whereas Tama Art University in Tokyo has futuristic architecture




It’s hard to imagine these libraries have problems with late returns – as users are surely desperate to come back again and again. They are the most spectacular in the world. Some are fascinating old halls with wooden ladders and mesmerising ceilings that have housed literary works for centuries. Others modern masterpieces.

One of the most spectacular is the Clementinum library which features baroque halls, a collection of globes and ornate balconies lining the walls.

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Circular wonder: The Library of Congress in Washington DC was founded in 1800 and contains more than 160 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves

The Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart in Germany was built in 1965, with its bare decoration drawing attention to its books

Stunning surroundings: The largest monastery library of the world is Admont Benedictine Monastery in Austria which comprises some 200,000 volumes in its beautiful halls

Visitors are able to take a tour of the elaborate library and its 20,000 books, while admiring the ceiling frescoes. Last year the glass-domed Adelaide library was named the most beautiful library in the world by Travel and Leisure1. Featuring masonry columns, painted gold features, two galleries and wrought iron balustrading the 1884 Mortlock Wing of the South Australian State Library was honoured alongside America’s Library of Congress in Washington and George Peabody Library in Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

From a glance the Tama Art University Library’s concrete arches resemble those of a Roman aqueduct, but up close provide an interesting place to settle down with a book

Page turner: The impressive Clementinum library in Czech Republic is magnificently decorated with ornate gilded carvings and a ceiling fresco depicting the Temple of Wisdom

The 213ft-long main chamber of the Long Room at Trinity College Library in Dublin was built between 1712 and 1732. By the 1850s the Library had been given permission to obtain a free copy of every book that had been published in Ireland and Britain

The Austrian National Library is a Unesco-protected site and it is easy to see why, with its captivating gold painted marble pillars

Mexico City’s recently reopened Biblioteca Vasconcelos is an outstanding example of a contemporary digital-age library

The six-floor Baltimore George Peabody Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world featuring 300,000 volumes largely from the 18th and 19th centuries

While some of the libraries are spellbinding due to their intricate decoration, such as Kloster Wiblingen Abbey in Germany, others prove that simplicity can be just as alluring. Take the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, for example, which features a regular, white design with the book covers and blue seats the only colours that stand out.

Bibliotheque Joanine shimmers with dazzling gold, whereas Tama Art University in Tokyo’s grey design is enhanced by futuristic architecture.

Taking the prize for one of the fanciest libraries around is Wiblingen Abbey’s halls. This 18th century monastery is built in rococo style featuring gold accents and statutes

It is easy to see why stunning New York Public Library took 12 years to build, with high ceilings and gilded decoration. Pictured is The Rose Main Reading Room

Plenty to explore: The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is located in the University of Toronto, featuring the largest collection of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada

The Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina) is the Baroque library of the University of Coimbra in Portugal with the walls covered by two-storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods

Built between 1712 and 1732, the Long Room at Trinity College’s Old Library holds the collection’s 200,000 oldest books

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library contains the principal rare books and literary manuscripts of Yale University, housed within a striking glass network of shelves

The Theological Hall inside Strahov Library in Prague is breathtaking to behold

The Hogwarts-esque Reading Room in the Suzzallo Library at University of Washington consists of rows of brass-lamped, oak study tables, beneath a 65ft-high ceiling

The University of Salamanca in Spain holds around 906,000 volumes to read from wooden chairs that compliment the surroundings

Located in Manchester, John Rylands Library is a striking gothic library, which opened on 1 January 1900.

Pictured is the Reading Room which features stained-glass windows

The Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve is a French national library in Paris built by architect Henri Labrouste in 1851, featuring a sea of lamps, wrought-iron railings and arched ceilings

The 85ft-long Library of Convent in National Palace of Mafra houses around 36,000 volumes amassed through royal commission


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