5 Stunning Libraries From Around the World

If your idea of heaven is being surrounded by books, then there are some truly incredible libraries around the world where you can make this dream a reality.

From glass palaces to cathedral-like structures, here are five stunning libraries you might want to explore.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Photo of modern shelves and architecture inside the Bibliotheca Alexandrna in Egypt
Credit: Octasy/ Shutterstock

Location: Alexandria, Egypt

Once upon a time, way back in ancient Egypt, Alexandria housed one of the most significant libraries in the world. Unfortunately, it was demolished in early AD years, but today a new structure stands in its place as an homage — and it’s incredible.

The project received over 1,400 potential design entries from various firms. Norwegian design firm Snøhetta won with their creative design, which resembles a gigantic sundial. Featuring a glass-paneled roof, a reading room facing a large reflecting pool, and books in multiple languages, this is truly a beautiful place to read and enjoy books. Several museums and a planetarium on the property make it a cultural destination.

George Peabody Library

Photo of elegant, tall atrium with thousands of books on shelves
Credit: Jon Bilous/ Shutterstock

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

If you were to conjure up an image of the ultimate library, it probably wouldn’t even come close to this palace of books. Located on the campus of Johns Hopkins University, this gorgeous library was built in 1878.

It features Baroque and Rococo design elements like a cathedral with a dramatic atrium, intricate wrought-iron detailing, gold leaf, and marble floors.

But it’s not just a looker: The library contains over 300,000 volumes of books within its five levels, and (hooray) is open to the general public.

Seattle Central Library

Photo of the abstract glass exterior of Seattle Central Library
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Location: Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s flagship library is a beauty to behold. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, the 11-story structure looks like a massive origami structure made from steel and glass and reflects the city streets and structures in an incredible way.

Inside, the structure is like a maze of books, with spiraling walkways through the main stacks and a modern-industrial aesthetic featured throughout. But the true jewel is the top-level reading room, where you can enjoy your book beneath a glass roof where you can hear the soothing pitter-patter of the gentle Seattle rain.

Strahov Library

Photo of a room inside an elegant old library with frescoed ceilings and old statues
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Location: Prague, Czech Republic

If you’re looking for an old-world setting to enjoy books, look no further than the Strahov Library. This library is part of a very old structure — the Strahov Monastery, which was founded in 1143.

The library itself was constructed in the late 1600s and features an incredible ornate frescoed ceiling, “cabinets of curiosities,” antique globes and maps, and thousands of texts, including rare Medieval manuscripts.

Stuttgart City Library

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Location: Stuttgart, Germany

Feel like reading in a structure that looks more like a futuristic movie set than a library? The sleek, modern Stuttgart Library is the perfect spot. Designed by Korean architect Eun Young Li, this library debuted in 2011 and has drawn visitors ever since.

Located in the city’s center, the library resembles a very neat white cube from the outside, which glows a gentle blue at night. The interior features a clean, white, open-plan design with zigzagging stairwells between tidy shelves of books. No, it may not feel like a comfy spot where you can hunker down and get cozy with a book, but it’s a very impressive structure.

Do You Have Your Library Card?

Closeup photo of books
Credit: Billion Photos/ Shutterstock

Readers of the world, rejoice: These libraries are monuments to the written word and are worth visiting for their designs as much as their books.

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