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Many book lovers appreciate the sanctity of libraries, and when it comes to the world’s most beautiful libraries, you can be sure that the appreciation borders on infatuation.
While the rise of electronic devices like Kindles have made reading more accessible and brought books into the digital age — which should rightfully be celebrated — there’s little that can dim the majesty of a brilliant library.
Not all were were created equal, however, and sometimes the architecture and aesthetics manage to rival the beauty of the books within.
Looks aren’t everything, we know; but the prospect of seeking solace in a book while in some of the world’s most beautiful buildings is thrilling indeed.
Here are the 16 most beautiful libraries in the world.
1. Mortlock Wing of the State Library of South Australia
This wing was built in 1884 in a French renaissance style, complete with mansard roof, in the centre of Adelaide.
After a couple of redevelopments, the centrepiece of the wing is now an exhibition space dedicated to the culture and heritage of South Australia.
2. Baroque Library Hall, Clementinum
The Clementinum is a complex of historic buildings in Prague, and was once the third largest Jesuit college in the world.
The Baroque Library Hall was built in 1722 and was painted in 1727 by Josef Hiebel — the ceiling is decked with frescoes on the subjects of science and art.
3. New York Public Library
This is the Rose Main Reading Room in the NYC Public Library on Fifth Avenue. It’s currently closed until 2017 sadly as it undergoes a rejuvenation, although it’s hoped that they will finish ahead of schedule.
The plaster ceiling here is a masterpiece.
4. State Library, Sydney
The oldest library in Australia and the Mitchell Wing, above, is the most beautiful — completed in 1910.
State Library as a whole is home to over 2 million books and 1.1 million photographs.
5. Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart
Probably one of the most German buildings we’ve ever seen — clean, sharp lines and an almost clinically white palette. Here, the books and visitors provide the colour.
It was designed by Yi Architects studio back in 2011.
8. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
A library of Yale University, Beinecke was designed in 1963 with the intention of the rare books being the centre point. Hence, why they populate the core of the building.
The low light and marble panels protect the books while also lending quite a luxe vibe to the library.
9. Richelieu Building, Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The National Library of France holds all French publications and has origins dating back to the 14th Century and Charles V.
The Richelieu building dates back to the 19th century. There are three other Parisian sites belonging to the library, with around 14 million books in total.
10. Old Library, Trinity College
This is the Long Room of Dublin’s beautiful Trinity College library. It’s 65 metres long and home to 200,000 of the building’s oldest books and manuscripts. It was built in the early 18th century.
As well as some beaut wood panelling, the room is lined with marble busts of various patrons of the college — mostly philosophers and writers.
11. Jay Walker’s Private Library
Described by Wired as “the most amazing library in the worl,” Priceline.com founder Walker’s private library is pretty beautiful.
Rare books, pop culture memorabilia and historic items can all be found here — including a list of plague deaths from 1665 and a sputnik.
12. Abbey Library of Saint Gall
Now a World Heritage Site, the library was the only part of the Abbey to survive a fire in 937, and now houses the oldest collection in Switzerland,
It was originally founded by Abbey founder Saint Othmar, and was designed in its current Rococo style by Peter Thumb. In situ manuscripts date back to the 8th century.
13. Bodleian Library
Probably the most famous library in the world, Oxford University’s beloved ‘Bod’ is home to 12 million items.
Above is the Duke Humphrey’s Library — the oldest reading room that dates back to 1487. It’s primarily for maps, music and rare books pre-1641. It’s named after Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, a son of Henry IV.
14. San Francisco Monastery Library
Home to 25,000 works of incredible rarity and value from the 15th to the 18th centuries. The building was completed in 1672.
15. Wiblingen Abbey Library
The former Benedictine abbey was completed in 1744 in the baroque style, although was functioning long before that as a centre of learning and excellence, in strict adherence to St Benedict.
The library was designed by Christian Wiedemann and is now open to the public.
16. William Randolph Hearst’s Private Library
Hearst Castle in California is home to a beautiful library and this, the gothic study, where media magnate Hearst carried out much of his business.
The library is home to over 4,000 books, as well as countless antiques and works of art. 150 Ancient Greek vases are also in evidence.
What have we missed?