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Six of the most amazing libraries around the world

December 2, 2016

The baroque hall at the national library of the Czech Republic. Photo: Earth Porm

You’d be a fool to think that libraries were just about books. In fact some have such jawdropping design that reading come a distant second to gawking at the art and architecture. Here is our collection of some of the most impressive libraries around the world.

Stuttgart City Library – Germany
The Stuttgart City Library was built in 2011 after Yi Architects won a design competition back in 1999. From the outside it looks like a massive cube made up of pale grey concrete and frosted glass bricks.
But it’s once you are inside that things get really interesting. The centrepiece of the all-white interior is the library’s atrium and the Escher-esque stairways surrounding it.

Stuttgart City Library. Photo: Stefan Muller/ Yi Architects. Stuttgart City Library. Photo: Stefan Muller/ Yi Architects.
Stuttgart City Library. Photo: Stefan Muller/ Yi Architects. Stuttgart City Library. Photo: Stefan Muller/ Yi Architects.

Royal Portuguese reading office – Brazil
Real Gabinete Portuguese De Leitura, as it is known in Portuguese, holds 350,000 volumes, including thousands of rare books by Portuguese authors. In fact it’s the biggest library of Portuguese works outside Portugal. The library rises three storeys, with a reading area in the middle.

Biblioteca Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura. Photo: Hady Khandani/ realgabinete.com Biblioteca Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura. Photo: Hady Khandani/realgabinete.com

Biblioteca Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura. Photo: RGPL/ realgabinete.com Biblioteca Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura. Photo: RGPL/realgabinete.com

The National Library of the Czech Republic – Prague
This library is 239 years old and holds a whopping 6.5 million texts.  In 2005 it won the inaugural UNESCO Jikji prize for digitising and preserving old texts.
The library has a striking colour scheme with beautiful frescos covering the ceilings and golden-topped pillars lining the walls.

National Library of the Czech Republic. Photo: Earth Porm National Library of the Czech Republic. Photo: Earth Porm

University of Aberdeen Library – UK 
The Sir Duncan Rice library was opened in 2012 by the Queen and has a unique spiral-like design running throughout the middle that allows for light to come through the roof.
The library is seven stories and is open to the public.

Sir Duncan Rice Library. Photo: shl Architects. Sir Duncan Rice Library. Photo: shl Architects.

Sir Duncan Rice Library. Photo: shl Architects. Sir Duncan Rice Library. Photo: shl Architects

 Admont Abbey Library – Austria
Admont Abbey, home to the biggest monastic library in the world, was designed by the architect Joseph Heuber in 1776.
The ceiling is made up of seven cupolas decorated with are works by Bartolommeo Altomonte.
Admont Abbey. Photo: stiftadmont. Admont Abbey. Photo: stiftadmont

Library of Parliament in Ottawa – Canada
The Library of Parliament was designed by Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones in 1876. The main reading room is decked out with flowers, masks, and mythical creatures.
This building today is a Canadian icon and even appears on their ten-dollar bill.

Library of Parliament, Ottawa. Photo: TrekEarth Library of Parliament, Ottawa. Photo: TrekEarth

Library of Parliament, Ottawa. Photo: blog.yvonet.com Library of Parliament, Ottawa. Photo: blog.yvonet.com

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