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Europe's Most Breathtaking Libraries - California Globetrotter

Europe’s MOST Breathtaking Libraries

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Whenever I heard the word “library”, I always got cold shivers down my spine as I remembered the long, tedious hours of study hall back during my high school years. It meant endless hours of boring homework instead of hanging out with my friends.

Then one day, I saw a list of the world’s MUST-SEE-LIBRARIES and the curious travelaholic in me decided to click on the link. I was stunned into silence and I began wishing that I had gone to a university that had a stunning library. Maybe I would have loved studying a little bit more!

The first known library was discovered in the first ancient civilization in southern Mesopotamia in Sumer, which is now modern-day Iraq. Here, clay-tablets dating as far back as 2600 B.C. were discovered. Other libraries filled with personal books were in Greece in 5 B.C. The Library of Alexandria in Egypt was the largest and more important library in the ancient world.

The Clementinium – Prague, Czech Republic

Then a few months later, we went to Prague to celebrate our one year anniversary back in 2014 and I learned that there were 2 beautiful libraries there and I knew I had to see them!Unfortunately, we only had time for one! So we went to the nearest, located in the heart of the Old Town of Prague! 

  • It’s history dates back to a chapel dedicated to Saint Clement in the 11th century.
  • It was once the largest Jesuit college in the world.
  • The first recording of weather for Czech lands began here in 1775 and still continue to this day.
Prague, Czech Republic - California Globetrotter
In order to see the Clementinum’s beautiful library, you must purchase a tour which includes a visit to the chapel, the Astronomical Tower which offers a fantastic view over the city and finally to the library. Pictures are not allowed in the library, but that didn’t stop anyone for sneaking a shot!

After that, I knew I was hooked and needed to see more!

Strahov Monastery Library – Prague, Czech Republic

While researching other beautiful libraries, I discovered that Prague had yet another library under its belt. Located at the Strahov Monastery not far from the Prague Castle, for CZK 100, you can visit not just one, but two libraries within the monastery. Be prepared to pay a little extra at the door of the library if you have a camera and want to take pictures.
You’ll first take a gander behind a rope into the Philosophical Hall which was commissioned towards the end of the 18th century. The fresco on the ceiling depicts the developments in science and religion, titled ‘Intellectual Progress of Mankind’.
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  • There are more than 42,000 books in this hall!
  • The highest rows of books are only accessible from a gallery with hidden spiral staircases, masked with false book spines.
Then you’ll continue down the hallway and find the Theological Hall built between 1671-1679 with stunning frescos and stucco work as well as a number of astronomical globes.
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  • This hall has over 18,000 books of which give the hall its name.
  • . The northern wall contains only different editions of the Bible or parts of the Bible in different languages.
  • The type of literature stored in this hall is depicted in the pictures in the wooden cartouches making this a rudimentary library.

Wiblingen Monastery Library – Wiblingen, Germany

Not far from Ulm is another Benedictine monastery famous for its breathtaking library.  The library is designed in the whimsical Rococo style of pale pinks and blues. It was like walking through a fantasy library, something Belle would have loved. The library is filled with books about imagery, both Pagan and Christian.
  • The abbey was founded in 1093.
  • The roof was constructed in 1774 and spans the entire church and is considered a masterpiece of Baroque workmanship and architecture.
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Located on the second floor of the abbey, you have to pay 4.50 € per adult PLUS another 3 € just to be allowed to take pictures of the library. However, you do get the option of getting an audio guide in English or German for free which will give you all the information and history about the library as you stare in wonder.

Admont Abbey – Admont Abbey, Austria

Just recently, my then boyfriend, now fiancé surprised me with a trip to Vienna. Along the way, we stopped at the library I had been dying to see the most because from pictures, I found it to be by far THE MOST STUNNING and I had to see it to believe it!
Tucked away in the Gesäuse National Park in the Stryia region, is the oldest Benedictine monastery in the region and contains the largest monastic library in the world! Decorated in pastel pinks and blues and highlighted with gold accents, it left one to imagine they were walking through the pearly gates of heaven!
Vienna, Austria - California Globetrotter
Never in my life had I seen anything so stunning as to take my breath away within stepping foot inside the library. I could have spent hours upon hours wandering around, staring at the ceiling frescos.
  • Admony Abbey was founded in 1074.
  • The library hall was built in 1776 and was considered to be the “Eighth World Wonder” after its completion.
  • A terrible fire destroyed almost the entire monastery, but the library was sparred.
  • During the 1930s, the abbey was forced to sell many of its art treasures to survive and the monks were evicted, not returning again until 1946.
Here you must also buy a ticket to view the library and pictures are allowed, so long as you have a sticket approving your camera. So get snap happy!

Austrian National Library – Vienna, Austria

Upon arriving in Vienna, I knew I was hooked for good on seeing as many libraries as I could for the rest of my life. I discovered the Austrian National Library, situated in the Hofburg Palace. I knew I had to see this one as well!

  • It is the largest library in Austria.
  • During the Medieval Period, Austrian Duke Albert III moved the books of the Viennese into a library.
  • The library was onced called the Hof-Bibliothek (“Imperial Library”) but changed the name in 1920.
  • The Prunksaal is the center of the old imperial library located between Josephsplatz to the north and the Burggarten to the south.

Vienna, Austria - California Globetrotter

Once I entered this library, I was overwhelmed by the size of the library and the endless rows and rows of books and with each book case there was a large wooden ladder to go with it, adding to the beauty! I could imagine Bell swinging to and fro the rows of bookshelves on the ladders singing her heart out merrily!

Now that I’ve had a dose of stunning libraries, I hope to visit as many as I can as we travel around Europe! They make want to grow my own little library! So Stay tuned for more as we check out more places!

What was the best library you have ever visited?

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Author: California Globetrotter

At 14 I started traveling the world with my parents and was hooked! By 21 I was studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. By 26 I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Germany to teach English. Little did I know, I'd meet the love of my life and end up traveling to the most romantic and idyllic towns in Europe and becoming a long-term expat in Bavaria! My name is Lorelei and I'm just your typical CaliGirl, Sunset Chaser, Fairytale Dreamer, Dress Lover, Traveloholic, Beer Drinker!

64 thoughts on “Europe’s MOST Breathtaking Libraries

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  5. I love libraries! These photos are stunning!! #MondayEscapes

    Kate x http://www.petiteadventures.org/

  6. Wow! You’ve visited some really cool libraries. I also enjoy visiting libraries. Some of our favorites include:

    -Marsh Library in Dublin (Jonathan Swift spent time here)
    -The Bodleian Library at Oxford University
    -The Public Library in Stuttgart (very modern…)

    #MondayEscapes

  7. Libraries are wonderful, and you’ve certainly picked some of the best! Love your photos too, the round ones make an interesting change!
    #MondayEscapes

  8. OMG, one more beautiful than the other! Unfortunately I haven’t been to any of them, but would love to!
    I loooove libraries, and I also wish I had a beautiful one at my Universities😀
    Great post and photos!

    Happy to have you on #MondayEscapes😀

  9. Okay, these are AMAZING!! I need to go to all of them! Well, I’ve been to the Austrian National Library, but I need to go to the rest.

    The John Rylands Library in Manchester is cool – it kind of looks like it was once a church, except it wasn’t – it was just built that way. I wouldn’t recommend Manchester for anything else though😉
    Oh, and of course the library at Trinity College, Dublin (where the Book of Kells is)

  10. The problem with visiting all these fabulous libraries, and my WORD, they are fabulous and so are your photos, is that I would be utterly sick that I couldn’t take them home and have them all to myself.

    I have actually got to sit in a magnificent library (the John Rylands one on Manchester) and look through an old book for, like , actual research purposes. Highlight of my life so far, I can tell you.

    Sadly, I think these still win. I particularly fancy the Czech one.

  11. Oh my goodness – these libraries are stunning. What a great idea to focus on libraries when visiting a city. I can’t compete with these athough, for a modern working library, the new one in Birmingham, is worth a look if you are ever there.
    Usually I just use town and village libraries as great places to go for a free bathroom stop! But none of them have ever looked like these gems.
    #mondayescapes

  12. Hey, I can understand you. These libraries are gorgeous. They look like palaces. The one in Wimbligen took my breath away. I would not mind spending hours reading and studying in places like this.

  13. Ooh these libraries are amazing. They didn’t go for subtle furnishings did they? The library in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is beautiful. #citytripping

  14. What a great place! Such magnificent buildings with so much history behind them. Fellow travel blogger Clare at Suitcases & sandcastles has blogged about some amazing libraries..might be worth checking it xx thanks for linking to #citytripping

  15. What a fabulous idea for a post! I was first intrigued when I read your post about Vienna a while ago. Those libraries are breathtaking. I do think it would be distracting though. I’d find it much harder to concentrate on the book I was studying with all that glorious detail surrounding me. #citytripping and #mondayescapes

  16. Love a library, but sometimes feel sorry for books caged behind the grills.
    #citytripping

  17. I’ve visited the one in Vienna!:) #city tripping

  18. Wow these libraries are truly stunning. Great photos:) I have visited the Alexandria Library in Egypt which was inspirational #CityTripping

  19. Oh my! This is a dream! I would love to step inside any of these libraries, they are incredible!

  20. I was such a bookworm when I was growing up so I’ve always loved libraries. In fact, I would have one in my dream house! Not sure it would be quite as stunning as these amazing places, such fascinating buildings! #MondayEscapes

  21. They’re all so stunning!! Admont Abbey is my favorite, so gorgeous, wow! If you visit Portugal, there’s a beautiful library in Porto. Romania also has a few gorgeous ones😉 #MondayEscapes

  22. The Stiftsbibliothek in St. Gallen, Switzerland, has to be on your list of awesome libraries, too. I share your obsession and will certainly safe your post for further explorations! #MondayEscapes

  23. Absolutely gorgeous pics n post! #MondayEscapes

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  25. I love visiting libraries when I travel! The Vilnius University Library in Vilnius, Lithuania is gorgeous as well.

  26. I would definitely be happy to while away a few hours browsing books in those libraries! Although mostly on a smaller scale the college libraries in Cambridge are real hidden gems, though you probably need a student to get you in. #wanderfulwednesday

  27. They are truly breathtaking! I often forget that something as “normal” as a library can be so beautiful. It didn’t cross my mind to visit the one in Vienna and I definitely regret that while looking at your photos!

  28. Definitely pinning this post for later! I’ve been to Prague, but had no idea about the gorgeous library! And I certainly can’t travel to any of the other places now without exploring their libraries. Thanks for sharing!🙂

  29. When I first saw this post title, the Library at Coimbra University in Portugal came to mind. It’s one of the oldest in Europe and gilded in gold. But these are very impressive as well. I’ve been to these cities too and never visited the libraries! What a shame. Thanks for sharing. #wanderfulwednesday

  30. Wow all of these places are stunning!!! I’ve been to a library in Manchester once which was equally fascinating but probably not as old as any of these ones…

  31. Theses are all amazing! They look like a museum/ art gallery crossed with a library because of all that art work and beautiful design. What great finds!

  32. I feel like I’d feel exactly like Belle from Beauty & The Beast if I could visit one of these exquisite libraries! They’re so beautiful, and I couldn’t imagine visiting somewhere that had that much history!

  33. These are some stunningly impressive libraries! And I somehow missed every single one during my travels ….. I did just recently visit El Ateneo in Buenos Aires though, which is one of their famous attractions. It’s a book store built into an old theatre and it was pretty incredible! Thanks for sharing and linking up!😀

  34. heart eyes emjoi for days! seriously, i love any library but the old school, Victorian looking libraries are 100% my favorite!

  35. OMG absolutely stunning. These libraries are even more beautiful than I imagined any could be. We had the Clementinium on our list Prague and wandered aimlessly looking for it and somehow got sidetracked and never made it there. I so regret not pursuing our search for this beautiful library, but like you would not have been able to resist a sneaky pic or three. Thank you so much for linking this seriously impressive post with #TheWeeklyPostcard

  36. Oh I do love a good library. In Australia, we don’t have anything like this. The State Library of New South Wales (in Sydney) is fascinating, but nowhere near as spectacular as these ones! Thanks for sharing🙂

  37. I love your post, Lolo. You just gave me a great idea for places to visit. I’ve never seen any of these libraries and I feel kind of bad. They all look absolutely fabulous. The best library that I visited so far is the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

  38. These are beautiful. I actually have not ever visited a library in Europe. I am planning on visiting the library at Trinity college on my next trip to Dublin though. I guess the prettiest library I have been to is the one in NYC. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  39. I love libraries! We went to the Strahov Libary in Prague (The other library in Prague). Your photos look amazing! I love the Admont Abbey Library. #theweeklypostcard

  40. I love libraries…and I’ve only been to one you’ve mentioned…more to add to the list!

  41. The Bodleian Library at Oxford University is my favourite. My three children who also toured the library were all trying to figure out on the day how they could study at Oxford, get a library card and hang out in the library… not so easy when you all live in Australia! Love their optimism though.

  42. Holy moley, those are some stunning libraries! Can you imagine studying there? I couldn’t do it – I’d be lost studying the details, admiring the architecture, and gazing at the ceilings. Especially Admont – just gorgeous! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  43. Such an amazing post! Love libraries: all these go to my bucket list! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  44. These are such beautiful libraries!!! I’m a bit of an introvert so I spent most of my time in libraries back when I was still studying. But I’ve never studied in one so beautiful! Haven’t thought of including libraries in my travel itineraries, though, I might just start doing that.🙂

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