May 2, 2024 | Peter Kinney

The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World


The World’s Most Stunning Libraries

From L.A. to Tokyo and everywhere between, these 15 libraries offer an unforgettable experience for those who appreciate scholarly style and remarkable craftsmanship.

library split image

The Book Lover’s Bucket List

So, whether you’re a lover for literature or design, at least one of these beautiful world-class libraries should be added to your bucket list.

Woman Sitting on LibraryYevgeniya Fedorova, Pexels

Impressive Design

The libraries on this list meet the highest standards in design, with soaring shelves, vaulted ceilings and ingenious designs. From concrete arches to vintage cathedral ceilings, there’s something for everyone.

Chair Beside Book ShelvesRafael Cosquiere, Pexels

Extensive Collections

Aside from their magical appearances alone, these libraries offer extensive collections that may not be found anywhere else in the world.

Let’s explore 26 of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Woman in modern library.Taryn Elliott, Pexels

The Admont Abbey Library, Austria

The Admont Abbey Library in Austria is a late Baroque masterpiece. Completed in 1776, it is considered the largest monastery library in the world—and it looks like something out of a fairytale.

Photo of the Benedictine ADMONT ABBEY (Styria, Austria)J. Adam, Shutterstock

The Admont Abbey Library: Design

The 230-foot long building boasts three main chambers with floor-to-ceiling shelving, 48 large windows, stunning ceiling cupolas and an original color scheme of gold and white.

The Baroque Library of the Admont Abbeyhl_1001, Flickr

The Admont Abbey Library: Collection

The Admont Abbey holds an extensive collection of over 200,000 books, which includes 1,400 manuscripts with some dating as far back as the 8th century A.D.

Admont Abbey Library, Austria - 2009Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons

Tama Art University Library, Tokyo

Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library was completed in 2007 and boasts a more modern approach with its choice in design and inclusion of technology.

Tama Art University, library - 2011Robertbaum CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tama Art University Library: Design

The modern approach to design boasts a complex architectural structure consisting of concrete arches, glass walls, minimalist furniture, and tidy rows of computers and technological devices.

Tama Art University Libraryjapanese_craft_construction, Flickr

Tama Art University Library: Collection

The Tama Art University Library houses 100,000 books, and has a primary focus on art education and research. It’s collection also includes materials on design, architecture, film, photography, and various other studies.

Tama Art University Library inside.Masashige MOTOE, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

The George Peabody Library is easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the U.S., with a spectacular design known for its impressive detail, and of course a massive collection to make it even better.

Peabody Library - 2009Payton Chung, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

George Peabody Library: Design

The building, established in 1878, features a Renaissance Revival style with a remarkable cathedral like-atrium, marble floors, and wrought-iron details throughout.

In fact, it’s a popular destination for wedding photos.

George Peabody Library - inside.Patrick Gillespie, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

George Peabody Library: Collection

With a collection of over 300,000 volumes stacked in five decorative tiers, this library is a literature lovers dream.

George Peabody’s goal was to create a library “for the free use of all persons who desire to consult it.”

Interior View Of The George Peabody Library - 2012Galdoughnut, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Tianjin Binhai Library, China

On the other end of design, the Tianjin Binhai Library in China offers a futuristic feel, which actually went viral when it opened in 2017, drawing in curious visitors from all over the globe.

The Tianjin Binhai library, nicknamed the cowardlion, Shutterstock

Tianjin Binhai Library: Design

The building was designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, and features a huge luminous sphere (called 'The Eye') in the middle of an auditorium, cathedral-like vaulted arches, and cascading floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

The Tianjin Binhai library, nicknamed the cowardlion, Shutterstock

Tianjin Binhai Library: Collection

The five-level building (363,000 sq ft) holds a whopping 1.2 million books and can accommodate 110 people comfortably in various reading nooks and lounges, computer rooms, offices and quiet spaces.

The Tianjin Binhai library, nicknamed the cowardlion, Shutterstock

The Library of El Escorial, Spain

The dazzling Library of El Escorial in Spain is part of a UNESCO World Hertiage Site.

It was designed by the mathematical and architectural genius Juan de Herrera, and is notable for being the first library in Europe to break from the medieval dogmatic beliefs on architecture and decoration.

El Escorial is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery and library.CristiDumi, Shutterstock

The Library of El Escorial: Design

Its design is said to have inspired the Vatican library in Rome, and is the first institution to display its books and manuscripts in shelving cases along the walls rather than in bays that were placed at right angles.

The library’s best feature is a series of seven frescoes that depict the liberal arts (music, rhetoric, astronomy, etc.).

San Lorenzo de El Escorial it is one of the best libraries in the world - 2007Jose Maria Cuellar, Flickr

The Library of El Escorial: Collection

The El Escorial’s collection includes over 40,000 books and manuscripts that cover everything from philosophy to politics to poetry, and are written in a multitude of different languages.

The Library at El Escorial - 2010John Keogh, Flickr

Starfield Library, South Korea

This beautiful library is in an intriguing location—a shopping mall. But amazingly enough, its outside means nothing once you enter this small city of books and discover all it has to offer.

Starfield library - 2021LR0725, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Starfield Library: Design

The Starfield Library is known as one of the most unique libraries in the world. With 27,000 square feet of space, the interior offers an informal elegance with a natural wood design, ambient lighting, towering metal shelving, and plenty of open space.

Library at COEX (2nd floor)Hyerimwon, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Starfield Library: Collection

Its collection holds roughly 70,000 books and 600 magazines, and spans across a 45-foot-tall bookcase hidden in a 30,000 square foot atrium.

Starfield Library at Gangnam District - 2017Efired, Shutterstock

Royal Library of Denmark, Copenhagen

The Royal Library of Denmark was originally built in 1648 and renovated in 1999 to its current design. It’s been affectionately dubbed, “the black diamond,” due to its intriguing design.

It is also among the world’s largest libraries, and the largest in the Nordic countries.

The new building (Thue ,Wikimedia Commons

Royal Library of Denmark: Design

The outer design of the building boasts glossy black metal flanking and a transparent glass center.

Inside, you’ll find the national photography museum, a café, a performance hall, and a stunning abstract fresco by Danish artist Per Kirkeby on the ceiling.

Interior of the Black Diamond, Copenhagen Royal Library. Denmark. February 2020paparazzza, Shutterstock

Royal Library of Denmark: Collection

As of 2017, the library’s rich collection includes over 36 million physical units and over 2 million electronic titles, and consists of books, journals, newspapers, pamphlets and corporate publications, manuscripts, maps, prints and photographs, music scores and more.

The Royal Library in Copenhagen, is the national library of Denmark - 2014Julie Mayfeng, Shutterstock

National Library of Finland, Helsinki

The National Library of Finland dates back to 1844, and is responsible for storing the Finnish cultural heritage. By Finnish law, it is a legal deposit library with copies of all printed matter.

National Library Of FinlandUnknown Author, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

National Library of Finland: Design

The National Library boasts a Classical temple architecture with a spectacular semi-circular annex and curved façade. The building boasts tall pillars throughout, natural brick walls, wooden floors and ceiling murals.

Inside view of National Library of Finland - 2019Suyash Dwivedi, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

National Library of Finland: Collection

The library holds a whopping 3 million books, with the bulk of its sensitive collection stored in an underground bunker drilled into solid rock, about 60 feet below the library.

The Rotunda of the National Library of Finland - 2016Marit Henriksson, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

The Strahov Monastery Library in Prague was originally founded way back in 1143. It’s a top contender for the world’s most beautiful library for its breathtaking design.

Aside from design, it includes sacred rooms where visitors are not permitted to enter—adding to its wonderous allure.

Strahov Monastery LibraryMatěj Baťha, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Strahov Monastery Library: Design

A narrow passageway connects two large halls that make up the Strahov Library.

The Theological Hall in the Strahov Library is said to be the most beautiful reading room in existence with its enchanting design that includes an illuminated white ceiling decorated in figurative artwork, red and gold shelving, oak floors, and pastel murals.

Strahov Theological Hall - Original Baroque Cabinets, Prague - 2008Jorge Royan, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Strahov Monastery Library: Collection

The library’s massive, and old collection of over 200,000 books includes a “compilation wheel” that turns to rotate shelves in order to make them easier to find.

Philosophical Hall (Strahov Monastery) - 2014Bjørn Erik Pedersen, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Central Public Library Branch, Seattle

Another modern design that turns heads is the Central Public Library Branch in Seattle, which boasts an intriguing glass-and-steel exterior and stands 11 stories tall.

Because of its location on a hill, visitors can enter and exit on different floors.

Seattle Central Library - 2019Ɱ, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Central Public Library Branch: Design

The building’s striking appearance includes several discrete “floating platforms” seemingly wrapped in a large steel net covered in small glass windows.

The interior is just as eye-catching with vivid green accents, a café, a gift shop, a teen center, and many other rooms.

Aerial view of main floor of the Seattle public Central Library with modern glass architecture - 2016Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

Central Public Library Branch: Collection

The 362,987-square-foot building holds about one and a half million books and other materials. It also offers over 400 public computers.

Seattle library,Seattle,Washington - 2016Checubus, Shutterstock

Stuttgart City Library, Germany

Germany’s Stuttgart City Library isn’t your average library. Situated in a concrete cube, its main attraction is a room shaped like an upside-down pyramid.

Stuttgart Public Library, Germany - 2014O Palsson, Flickr

Stuttgart City Library: Design

The 11-floor building includes two floors below ground and 9 above. It boasts a glass interior façade with stark white walls, floors and staircases giving it a modern-minimalist look.

A large central skylight fills the entire space with natural light, and roof-top terrace is available with quiet reading spaces under the clouds.

Stuttgart CIty Library on Mailänder Platz at night - 2018Pjt56, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Stuttgart City Library: Collection

The massive collection includes hundreds of thousands of books, including literature from any and all genre, and nearly all languages. This also includes rare books.

Stuttgart City Library - 2011suchosch, Flickr

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

This one is often referred to as a “palace devoted to books,” rather than a library. With a stunning limestone exterior inspired by the famous Jerónimos Monastery in Libson, the interior is even more impressive.

Portuguese Royal Reading Room, RioWagner Campelo, Shutterstock

Royal Portuguese Reading Room: Design

The interior follows the Neo-Manueliene style with wooden bookcases, a spectacular chandelier that lowers down from a large stained-glass skylight, filling the room with vibrant color.

There are several statues, medallions, monuments and murals throughout the building.

Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading - 2019Donatas Dabravolskas, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Royal Portuguese Reading Room: Collection

The library’s collection includes over 350,000 items including numerous rare works. Each year, the library receives about 6,000 titles from Portugal.

Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading - 2019Donatas Dabravolskas, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bodleian Library, Oxford, England

The Bodleian Library has been in use since the 1300s, and is said to be one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the second-largest in Britain.

The Bodleian Library in Oxford - 2015Jonathan, Flickr

Bodleian Library: Design

The library was built in the old Gothic style, with a stunning dome shaped exterior and three historic reading rooms inside.

With stunning, textured ceilings, dark wood and classically designed windows, this library was used as the filming location for the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter films.

Duke Humfrey's Library, the oldest part of the Bodleian Library, Oxford - 2011annetgent, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bodleian Library: Collection

The Bodleian collection reaches over 12 million, which includes over a million Special Collections, as well as the rare and renowned items including The Bay Psalm Book—the most expensive printed book in the world.

Duke Humfrey Library, Bodleian Library, Oxford - 2015David Iliff, Flickr

Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

Mexico City has a more modern approach to their library. The Biblioteca Vasconcelos is truly remarkable with its massive collection stacked in hanging shelves from the ceiling above.

Interior of the Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City - 2015Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Biblioteca Vasconcelos: Design

The 820-foot building is made of concrete, steel and glass, and sits in the middle of a lush botanical garden.

The interior boasts details like see-through floors, a colossal white whale skeleton on display, and huge bookcases suspended from the ceiling.

Facade of the Biblioteca Vasconcelos (Vasconcelos Library) in Mexico City - 2014ProtoplasmaKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Biblioteca Vasconcelos: Collection

The library’s extensive collection of over 470,000 books hangs from the ceiling in metal book case structures that can be accessed from staircases along the side of the building.

Interior of the Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City - 2015Nan Palmer, CC BY 2.0,Wikimedia Commons

State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

From the outside, the State Library of South Australia doesn’t look like anything all that impressive, but the ultramodern glass exterior hides a stunning historic interior that fits all your boarding school fantasies.

The Mortlock Wing of the State Library of South Australia (first opened in 1884) - 2018RobynCharnley, Shutterstock

State Library of South Australia: Design

The outside of the building boasts a large glass cube entranceway that leads you to an unimaginable historic scene with a glow of ambient lighting that highlights the dark wood and wrought-iron details.

Sunset view of state library in Adelaide, Australia - 2020trabantos, Shutterstock

State Library of South Australia: Collection

The library includes an extensive collection of general reference materials, heritage works, research materials, children’s literature, and the largest rare collection in Australia.

Mortlock Wing within the South Australian state library - 2018Shayne T Wright, Shutterstock


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