They are the resources of our greatest collective knowledge, and as such, libraries are an architectural testament to the strength of the human imagination. Here is a list of our favorite top 10 libraries in the world.
1. New York Public Library
New York, New York
Spanning three city blocks, the Beaux-Arts landmark contains nearly 53 million items, and is the third largest library in the world. Filled with mosaics, the Rose Main Reading Room spans nearly two city blocks and contains 42 elongated oaks tables for visitors to sit and marvel.
2. The Library of Alexandria, Egypt
The original Library of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the epicenter of some of the greatest minds in the ancient world. Rebuilt in 2002, the $220 million dollar library boasts a planetarium, museum, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries and a conference center that aims to live up to its great predecessor.
3. Jay Walker’s Private Library
Also known as “The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination,” the library is a surreal environment that’s inspired by M.C. Escher, holding more than 50,000 books, most of which are early titles worthy.
4. Abbey Library of Saint Gall,
St. Gallen, Switzerland
Containing 160,000 books, this is one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world where you can view manuscripts from as far back as the 8th-Century, and is also a World Heritage site since 1983.
5. Library of Congress,
The largest library in the world, The Library of Congress is made up of three distinct buildings. The library contains a draft of the Declaration of Independence, over 32 million books, 61 million manuscripts, and a perfect copy of the Gutenberg Bible (there are only four in the world). It’s no wonder it has made our list of the top 10 libraries in the world.
6. National Library of Brazil,
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Boasting neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles and a titled as a World Heritage site, the library is the 7th largest in the world where you can peruse more than nine million books and manuscripts, ad well as a collection of tens of thousands of photographs rarely taken in the 19th-Century.
7. Austrian National Library –
Stare up at the glorious frescos that adorn Austrian National Library, which were created by painter Daniel Gran, and walk through the halls that hold statues by sculptor Paul Strudel, which honor Habsburg rulers.
8. Wiblingen Abbey Library
Built in 1744, this spellbinding museum is possibly the most beautiful in the world – if not the most ornate. Franz Martin Kühn’s frescos adorn the space that was designed by Christian Wiedemann.
9. Seattle Public Library
A gleaming geometric shape, designed by Architect Rem Koolhaas, the Seattle Public Library is an 11-story building of glass and metal that seeks to create a unique sense of transparency. The New Yorker, declared it “exhilarating,” and it was also included on the American Institute of Architects’ list of America’s 150 favorite structures in 2007.
10. George Peabody Library
A cathedral of books, the research library of Johns Hopkins University is well known for housing the world’s foremost collections of Don Quixote editions, and many of the other titles date back as far as the 19th-Century. The library is open to browsers.
Have you been to one of these museums, or would like to add any libraries to our list? Share your local knowledge in the comments below!