They might be places you never thought of visiting, but the best libraries in large European cities actually have a lot to offer. Some of them have witnessed important historic events and others are famous for their contemporary architecture. So let's keep our voices down and discover the best libraries in Europe.
- El Escorial Monastery Library, Madrid
El Escorial Library is a must for anyone travelling to Madrid. In this Renaissance library founded by King Philip II, the highlight is its Main Hall with a large vault painted with splendid frescoes. The library holds important collections of books, etchings, drawings, coins, etc.
- Austrian National Library, Vienna
In keeping with the elegance of Vienna, the Austrian National Library is a real Baroque gem. Founded by the House of Habsburg, the impressive State Hall (Prunksaal) stands out. Amongst marble statues and paintings we find a collection of more than 200,000 books, maps, papyruses and globes.
- Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen
Of all the buildings that the Royal Danish Library has in Copenhagen, one of them is simply stunning. It is called the Black Diamond. The building is made up of two black marble and glass cubes, and the balconies have a beautiful sea view. Inside, its eight floors with white undulating walls hold more than 250,000 works.
- The John Rylands Library, Manchester
This Gothic library, which is part of Manchester University, could easily be mistaken for a cathedral because of its amazing stained glass windows and coffered ceilings. Its most valued possession is the oldest known original piece of the New Testament.
- Stuttgart Library
If we were to choose one word to describe Stuttgart library, it would be minimalistic. On the outside it looks like a Rubik's cube, and on the inside it is completely white, spacious and bright, with nine floors at different heights. It makes you feel peaceful and relaxed.
- National Library of France, Paris
The National Library of France has several buildings, but the main one is François Mitterrand, in the neighbourhood of Tolbiac in Paris. It is one of the most important libraries in the world and holds more than 13 million books, 350,000 manuscripts, maps collections, and more. Don't miss the Richelieu oval reading room!
- Clementinum Library, Prague
Inside the Clementinum architectural complex, the old headquarters of the Jesuit college of Prague, we can find this library. The room, in the Baroque style, boasts a dome where the Temple of Wisdom is depicted, and on its shelves we find a theological collection of more than 20,000 copies from the Jesuit period, and a large number of globes.
These libraries are fascinating and well worth visiting both by bookworms and by those who can't remember the last time they set foot in a library!