Libraries are and have always been part of our civilization, representing each different country’s culture and architecture. Some of them are known for their great book collections, some for their captivating design while others have an enticing story behind their impressive façades. Guess you can’t judge a book by its cover! Most are… overwhelming and beautiful libraries.

From the thousands of libraries that nowadays can be found all over the world, these beautiful libraries will certainly catch your attention! Definitely a must on your travel bucket list when you’re visiting these countries!

National Library of Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Facade of the National Library of Brazil
Photo source: Hugo Martins Oliveira

The National Library of Brazil is the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest in the world, housing among other things nine million items and 21,742 photographs dating from the nineteenth century. It’s located in Rio de Janeiro, named as one of the 10 most beautiful cities in the world.

Built in 1810 but inaugurated a century later, the beautiful library features a mix of neoclassical and art nouveau elements and is decorated with remarkable artworks such as pictures, panels, and sculptures.

The library, which is nowadays named by UNESCO as one of the major national libraries in the world, owes its existence to an earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755. Due to the damages the Portuguese Royal Library suffered, they decided to move its contents to Brazil where some years later Prince Regent announced the construction of the National Library of Brazil. 

Admont Abbey Library – Admont, Austria

Room inside of Admont Abbey Library
Photo source: Nat S. Retsu

Constructed in 1776 on the banks of Enns River, the imposing library of Admont Abbey has adorned southeast Austria for over 4 centuries. The spectacular library’s main hall was designed in Baroque-style by Joseph Hueber, a legendary architect advocate of the ideals of the Enlightenment.

The seven ceiling frescoes painted by Bartolomeo Altomonte display the different phases of human knowledge. Spanning 70 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 meters high and home to 70,000 volumes, Admont Abbey Library is considered the world’s largest monastery library and is certainly one of the most impressive and beautiful libraries around.

By the way: To catch the aesthetics of the interior design these beautiful libraries are home to, you should know these rules for interior photography. Make sure that you shoot from waist level and you have a tripod with you (in case you want to use a longer exposure time and make the other visitors disappear). And (please) don’t use the flashlight.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina – Alexandra, Egypt

Bird's eye view of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina library
Photo Source: Ahmed el-kabbani

Since Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002, around 1.5 million visitors head to the 11-story building every year to explore its hoards of books and exhibitions rooms.

Six specialized libraries contain in total eight million books, The Planetarium Science Center, permanent contemporary Egyptian art exhibitions and four art galleries are some of the collections housed inside the library’s gray Aswan granite walls.

This impressive and beautiful library was designed by the Norwegian architect, Snøhetta, and was based on the style and the spirit of the original Library of Alexandria.     

Macquarie University Library – Sydney, Australia

One of the most beautiful libraries, Macquarie University Library
Photo Source: aiyoshi597

Inspired by the eucalyptus forest that embellishes the campus and built in a way that fits the peaceful surrounding landscape, the Macquarie University Library in Sydney boasts a unique modern design. Surrounded by a glass façade, the library is flooded with natural light while the green expanse of roof covering the western half of level 2 and the roof of level 5 can also be used as a great outdoor studying space.

Sustainability was an important factor during the building’s construction, so the architect adopted environmentally-friendly tactics including, among others, the recycling of 80% of the waste. Aside from its stylish design though, the Macquarie University Library is well-known for featuring the first automated book storage and retrieval system in Australia. That means that robotic cranes find requested items and deliver them to the front desk for collection!

For all travel lovers: Who doesn’t want to be inspired? Here are the 12 best and most exciting places on earth you should visit before you die! Listed among amazing places like the Salar de Uyuni and the Glowworm caves in New Zealand … is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Just in case you want to connect your library tour with a short snorkeling adventure.

Seattle Central Library – Seattle, Washington, USA

The futuristic facade of the Seattle Central Library in sunset
Photo Source: lembi

With its futuristic design, the 11-floor Central Library in Seattle is certainly one of the most stylish libraries worldwide. Glass and metal are the main materials used for the construction of the building in order to fulfill OMA and LMN Architects’ vision for “a continuous layer of transparency”.

Aside from its vast collection of 1.45 million books and other items, the geometric-style building houses music practice rooms, quiet areas as well as 400 computers and private Skype rooms. No wonder that in 2004, when it opened its doors for the first time, the library attracted 8,000 visitors a day and it still is one of the most popular libraries worldwide. 

UNAM Central Library – Mexico City, Mexico

The UNAM central library facade, one of the most beautiful libraries
Photo Source: BondRocketImages

What makes UNAM Central Library stand out among the thousands of libraries worldwide is its magnificent facade. A colorful stone mural depicting events from Mexico’s history covers every part and side of the 10-floor building’s exterior wall. The man behind this impressive artwork is Juan O’Gorman, a Mexican architect and painter who traveled across Mexico to find each one of the colorful stones used for composing this majestic mosaic.

The Central Library, located on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, was completed in 1952 and nowadays holds 400,000 books. 

We have some good news for all travelers in Mexico or who are planning to go there: Mexico not only owns one of the most beautiful libraries worldwide, but also one of the most impressive beaches! Named the hidden beach, the Playa de Amor is situated in a large cave.

Vancouver Public Library – Vancouver, Canada

The spectaculare shape of the Vancouver Public Library
Photo Source: SherSS

It doesn’t take much imagination to see the resemblance of Vancouver’s Public Library Central Branch to the internationally famous Colosseum in Rome. The 9-story building is surrounded by a red-brownish elliptical wall which, as well as its similarity to the Italian amphitheater, also makes up an important part of the library, featuring study areas.

This striking building is located at Vancouver’s city center capturing attention from passer-by, while a piazza-like area surrounds the library, bringing even more of Italy into the heart of Vancouver. 

Sandro Penna Municipal Library (Mediatheque Sandro Penna) – Perugia, Italy

Old books of a library on a shelf

With a round pink glassy structure which glows at night surrounding its second floor, Sandro Penna Municipal Library certainly stands out for its modern and bizarre design. This Italian library is the brainchild of Studio Italo Rota architects who brought their vision into life in 2004.

Aside from a great collection of books, the 3-level building is home to pieces of vinyl and records, newspapers and multimedia documents

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland, USA

The overwhelming interior of the George Peabody Library
Photo Source: Jon Bilous

Elegant, classy and breathtaking are three words that accurately describe the George Peabody Library at the John Hopkins University. Known nowadays as Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books”, the 19th-century library was designed by architect Edmund G. Lind who designed a 61-foot breathtaking building adorned with cast-iron balconies. The stack rooms hold in total 300,000 volumes that cover a wide range of topics dating from the Renaissance to the 19th century.

Definitely one of the most beautiful libraries in the world!


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?


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