The world's most stunning libraries


January 25 – Tatiana's day, it's also the day of Russian students. As a congratulation to all students, we present the best repositories of knowledge – unique libraries of the world, beautiful both in form and content.

Since ancient times, architects and designers have approached the creation of libraries, temples of knowledge with special trepidation. Therefore, it is not surprising that today many of them are included in the lists of the main city attractions. Among modern book depositories, there are also projects that deserve the closest attention. We present the most outstanding libraries from around the globe, striking the imagination with their beauty.


Vatican Apostolic Library.

Many people could see the interiors of the magnificent Vatican Apostolic Library in the TV series Young Pope by Paolo Sorrentino. It dates back to the time of Pope Sixtus V (1521-1590), who ordered the construction of a new building for a collection of thousands of manuscripts. Today its funds include about 1,600,000 printed publications, 150,000 manuscripts, 8300 incunabula, more than 100,000 engravings and geographical maps, 300,000 coins and medals. The library has a restoration workshop and a school of librarians.

Admont Abbey Library, Austria

Admont Abbey Library , Austria.

The largest monastery library in the world was built in 1776 on the banks of the Austrian river Ens. The main hall, 70 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 meters high, is crowned with seven domes painted with frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte. The interior is made in the best traditions of the Baroque style in white and gold tones, and the sculptures decorating the interior are actually made of wood and covered with bronze paint.

Library of the Admont Abbey, Austria.


The Central City Library of Vyborg is the only building of the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in Russia. Alvar Aalto won the tender for its construction back in 1927, but it was far from immediately possible to start construction: either there were no funds, then local residents protested, dissatisfied with the construction in the middle of the city park. As a result, the library was completed and opened only in 1935, but the project turned out to be truly revolutionary for its time. The books were lifted by a special lift from the storage room to the balcony, where in summer it was possible to read in the fresh air, the subscription hall was illuminated through special skylights in the ceiling, and the undulating ceiling of the lecture hall provided unique acoustics. Read more about this project in our resource dedicated to Alvar Aalto.

Royal Library in Martha Palace, Portugal

Royal Library in Martha Palace, Portugal.

A luxurious palace in the suburbs of Lisbon was built at the behest of King João V in honor of the birth of his first child. Its construction was carried out from 1717 to 1730. The impressive Baroque library contains over 35,000 rare volumes, some of which are over 500 years old. By the way, the bats living here since the discovery date are responsible for the safety of the books, and they destroy insects dangerous to precious tomes at night.

Royal Library at Martha Palace, Portugal.

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

Stuttgart City Library, Germany.

In the daytime, from the outside, this nine-story building looks like a monolithic cube, but as the sun goes down, the windows begin to glow with a blue glow. The interior of the library is also the embodiment of the idea of ​​minimalism – snow-white walls, a five-story atrium in the form of an inverted pyramid, a lot of light and free space. The Stuttgart Library, open 24 hours a day, also has several conference rooms, a café and a rooftop terrace.

Parliamentary Library Handelingenkamer, The Netherlands

Parliamentary Library Handelngenkamer, Netherlands.

The four-story Parliamentary Library in the Netherlands was designed so that visitors do not need to use lighting fixtures – its roof is crowned with a large glass dome, through which sunlight can freely enter the room. But the main advantages of this Renaissance-style room are the cast-iron spiral staircase and balustrades made in the same style. The red and green color scheme makes it clear that the architects were inspired by the culture of ancient China.

Binhai Library in Tianjin, China

Binhai Library in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

The Binhai library in the Chinese city of Tianjin from the Dutch bureau MVRDV is stunning at first glance – this project is so unlike all similar buildings created up to this point. A mesmerizing snow-white atrium with a giant glowing sphere is framed by seemingly endless rows of twisting shelves. Cascading rows of books, coupled with a cosmic central ball and oval glass atrium, create the illusion of a human eye, visible from the outside. Read more about this project here.

Cottbus Library, Germany

Cottbus Library, Germany. < p>The information and communication media center Cottbus, in other words the library, is located opposite the main building of the Brandenburg Technical University. It was built in 2004 by the design agency Herzog & amp; de Meuron. The ultra-modern room is equipped with separate rooms with computers, where you can store literature and carry out your research projects in privacy. The main emphasis is placed on a huge spiral staircase in acid pink and green colors.


Renewed main reading room of the RSL.

The main library of our country – the famous Leninka – since the early 2000s. is in the process of restoration. Recently, work was completed in the main reading room number 3, which is considered the largest in Europe. The architectural appearance of the hall was restored, unique parquet floors, stucco moldings, furniture, brass chandeliers and decorative panels were restored. In addition, readers can now connect their tablets or laptops to the library's computer network and access the library's giant electronic archive. And best of all, wi-fi has finally appeared in the reading room! Read more about the Lenin Library in our special material.

Juanin Library, Coimbra, Portugal

Juanin Library, Coimbra, Portugal.

The Juanin Library in Coimbra is a real book palace! It was built in the 18th century by order of the Portuguese King João V, whose coat of arms adorns the entrance, and is part of the main library of the University of Coimbra. The construction was supervised by the architect Jual Carvalho Ferreira. The baroque building has the shape of a parallelepiped, the main entrance is decorated with four columns (two on each side of the monumental teak doors). Inside the library there are three large rooms: red, blue and olive, separated by arches. More than 250,000 books are stored on shelves along the walls. Wall paintings by artist Antonio Ribeiro Simoes and Vicente Nunez.

New York Public Library, USA

New York Public Library, USA

The entrance to the New York Public Library, which spans more than two blocks, is guarded by lions – Lord Lenox and Lady Astor, also known as Patience and Fortitude. Inside, there are 120 kilometers of frescoed wooden bookshelves. The largest library in the world often appeared in the frame in various films, including “Spider-Man”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Sex and the City”, “Thomas Crown Affair”, “Time Machine”, “Ghostbusters” and many others .

Library Saint-Genevieve, France

Library Saint-Genevieve, France.

The Sainte-Genevieve Library, which now houses more than two million unique documents, was built in the middle of the 19th century by the renowned architect Henri Lambroust, who founded the Rational School of Architecture. It was he who began to actively use metal structures in construction for the first time. The interior of the library, which became his main brainchild, consists of two connected arcades, the vaults of which are reinforced with intricate patterned cast-iron beams.

National Library of Qatar

National Library of Qatar.

The diamond-shaped white building with a glass facade is the new Qatar Library, erected by Rem Koolhaas and his office OMA. The interiors of the library are also designed in white: stairs, walls, ceilings and even bookshelves are made of snow-white marble, and the internal partitions are made of transparent glass. Three wings of the building – a total of 45,000 sq. m – given over to the National, University and Public Libraries, and in the basement are ancient manuscripts and manuscripts related to the Arab-Islamic culture. Read more about this project here.

Girolamini Library, Naples

Girolamini Library, Naples. < p>The Girolamini Library was built in 1586 and is the oldest in Naples. It is part of a large monastic complex of the Order of the Oratorians and occupies three tiers, which contain manuscripts, rare tomes, incunabula, sheet music. Baroque vaults with rich stucco and frescoes rise above two floors of carved wooden shelves.

Trinity College Library, Ireland

Trinity College Library, Ireland.

The Trinity College Dublin Library is a unique place. The main hall is a 65-meter gallery with dark wood shelves and marble busts of great writers, many of whom attended Trinity College. The list of honorary graduates, in particular, includes the names of Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. The crown jewel of the local collection of 200,000 books is the unique Book of Kells, a sacred manuscript created by Celtic monks in 800.

Codington Library UK

Codrington Library, Oxford, UK.

The Codrington Library in Oxford, England is a place of attraction for scholars from all over the world. It contains nearly 200,000 books on jurisprudence, history, military affairs, sociology and religious studies. At the same time, about a third of this collection was created in the 19th century and earlier. Built in the middle of the 18th century with donations from Oxford University Councilor Christopher Codrington, the library was restored only once – in the late 1990s.

Portuguese Royal Library, Brazil

Portuguese Royal Library, Brazil.

Despite its name, the Portuguese Royal Library is not located in western Europe, but on the other side of the world – in Brazil. In 1837, 43 emigrants from Lisbon, nostalgic for their homeland, decided to found a library in Rio de Janeiro. It took 50 years to build, but the result was worth it. Today, the New Manueline-style library is one of the city's landmarks, and the local book collection is the world's largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal itself.

State Library of Victoria, Australia

State Library of Victoria, Australia.

The Victoria Library in Melbourne, Australia was opened in 1856, the famous domed hall appeared later – in 1913. The collection of books stored on the shelves of the State Library of Victoria numbers about two million titles, including such unique ones as the work of Captain James Cook, the founders of Melbourne John Batman and John Pascoe Fockner, and the manuscript of the famous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

George Peabody Library, USA

George Peabody Library, USA.

The six-story atrium of the George Peabody Library in Boston, America attracts not only literature lovers – weddings, gala dinners, ceremonies and other events are often held here. However, the building in the style of the Greek Revival with Corinthian columns and wrought-iron balustrades is interesting, first of all, for the richest collection of books on archeology, as well as British and American history and literature.

Vennesla Library, Norway

Vennesla Library, Norway.

The Vennesla Library in the south of Norway has already won several architectural awards during its 4 years of existence (it was opened in 2011). The building's designers had to propose an eco-friendly project that meets the strictest rules: the main focus in the interior of the library are 27 “ribs” made of recycled wood, forming a unique building skeleton and an unusual roof structure. Today the library is one of the main local attractions.

Monastic Library in Melk, Austria

Monastery Library in Melk, Austria.

The unique monastery library in the city of Melk contains about 100,000 items, including many ancient manuscripts and incunabula, the creation of which dates back to 1500. The ceiling of the main hall of the library is decorated with a fresco by Paul Troger, depicting Vera, a woman with a book in her hands, surrounded by angels. Most of the Baroque building is open to the public, but there are also rooms that are hidden from prying eyes.

Library named after Jose Vasconcelos, Mexico

Library named after Jose Vasconcelos, Mexico.

One of the most notable monuments of modern architecture, the Jose Vasconcelos Library was opened in Mexico City in 2006. The local press immediately dubbed it a “mega-library” for an impressive 38,000 square meters, so that even the skeleton of a whale in the main hall does not look too bulky here. The building is made of marble, granite, steel, concrete and glass. More than half a million books on any subject can be found on the five suspended levels of the library.

Public Library in Helsinki

The recently opened city library in Helsinki is called Oodi, which translates from Finnish as “ode” or “poem”. This not only sounds beautiful, but also denotes a close connection with literature. The author of the project of the building with an area of ​​as much as 17 thousand square meters, located opposite the Finnish parliament, was the local studio ALA Architects.

Central City Library Plaza in Calgary

A large-scale project has been completed in Calgary, which has been working on since 2013. The Library Plaza, Calgary, Canada, designed by Snøhetta, officially opened on November 1, 2018. Read more in our dedicated resource.

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