Europe, with its rich history of literature and great writers such as Shakespeare and George Orwell, is a heaven for readers worldwide who crowd to its libraries daily. The list is endless so let’s narrow it down to the 15 best European libraries.
1. The Bodleian Library
The University of Oxford houses one of Europe’s oldest libraries – The Bodleian library. It was established in 1602 and its claim to fame is the variety of historical items such as Shakespeare’s First Folio dating to 1623. It is also unique in structure with the Radcliffe Camera – a circular building known worldwide due to its popularity in movies.
2. The Vatican Library
It is based in Vatican City, has existed in various forms since the beginning of the Catholic church. It houses just over a million books as well as thousands of manuscripts. It’s prized possession is the complete manuscript of the Bible.
3. The Abbey Library of Saint Gall
Located in Switzerland is Switzerland’s oldest library and was founded in 719. It holds historical manuscripts which date as far back as the 8th century. It was named a World Heritage site in 1983.
4. The Trinity College Library
Situated in Dublin is dubbed the Long Room is the biggest library in Dublin and houses a variety of old books including the Book Kells.
5. Chateau de Chantilly Library
Located in France is one of the few which houses one of the few existing copies of the Gutenberg Bible and also boasts an art gallery.
6. The Wiblingen Monastery
One of the most beautiful libraries in Germany is the Wiblingen Monastery. Built in the Baroque style, it features unique ornamentation and a stunning fresco ceiling earning its position among the 15 best libraries in Europe.
7. The Stockholm Public Library
Another visually aesthetic library which is based in Sweden is the Stockholm Public Library. Designed by one of Sweden’s most notable architects, the main library is shaped as a rotunda allowing visitors an awe inspiring all round view of the numerous shelves.
8. The National Library of Belarus
The National Library of Belarus in Russia is distinctive due to its unique shape which is a combination of cubes and hadrons. It is a public attraction with an observation deck and is also known to house a large collection of Russian works.
9. The Herzog August Library
This place was founded by a German Duke and is one of the biggest libraries in all of Europe. A third of its 900,000 books are from the 15th Century making it known for collections from the Middle Ages.
10. Melk Abbey
This is a library in Austria known for its collections of musical and medieval manuscripts. It is also visually enticing with its frescoed ceilings.
11. The Danish Royal Library
It has the esteemed label of being one of the few libraries in Denmark to house a copy of every book printed in Denmark since 1482. In the Nordic region, it is the largest library and also contains historical maps of the Polar Region.
12. The Austrian National Library
Known for its collection of medieval maps from as far back as the 16th century, the Austrian National Library is also aesthetically pleasing with charming frescoes on the arched ceilings.
13. The National Library of St. Mark’s
Built in 1537, this landmark deserves a mention among the 15 best libraries in Europe. The Renaissance type structure in Italy has collections dating back to 1468 and contains a copy of every book printed in Venice since 1603.
14. The Reading Room
Which is in the British Museum can make its claim to fame due to the famous scholars who studied there. These include George Orwell, Karl Marx, and even Mahatma Gandhi. It also hosts exhibitions of recent archeological finds as well as offering books relating to travel, art, and history.
15. The Library of El Escorial
Spain boasts one of the most beautiful libraries in all of Europe. With its high vaulted ceilings, the painted frescoes each represent a liberal art form ranging from music to astronomy.