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The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

The Library of Alexandria is the world's oldest library and one of the most beautiful libraries in the world

We love libraries, although we must admit we don’t visit them often enough. The best part about libraries is that they’re public – making knowledge and books free and accessible to everyone. If they’re housed in an incredible building well, that’s just the icing on the cake! Take a look at some of the most beautiful libraries in the world, as well as our recommendation for what book to read if you go.

Central Public Library, Vancouver, Canada

What makes it special: Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the plain rectangle building is surrounded by a free-standing, elliptical wall containing cafes and shops. This structure gives the building an old Roman feel.

What to read here: John Vaillant’s nonfiction novel The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed.


The Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

What makes it special: It’s right on the water so you can take your book outside to watch the ripples on the surface (although inside might even be more beautiful). It also holds Denmark’s first book, printed in 1482.

What to read here: Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, especially The Little Mermaid.


Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart, Germany

What makes it special: A simple, modern design makes it feel more like an art gallery than a library, which really makes the books pop.

What to read here: Those Crazy Germans! A Lighthearted Guide to Germany by Steven Somers.

Angelica Library, Rome, Italy

What makes it special: It’s survived the ups and downs of Roman history and is still living to tell the tale. Not only is the building old, but so are its contents – about half of the library’s collection is classified as a national monument.

What to read here: I, Claudius, by Robert Graves.

Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt

What makes it special: For one, it’s the oldest library in the world – we’re talking way back around 300 BC. It’s also stunningly beautiful (see the picture above), and is now housed in an incredibly modern building that has to be seen to be believed.

What to read here: Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What makes it special: It looks like a cathedral, complete with Gothic-renaissance stained glass, iron skylight, and chandelier. It’s breathtaking.

What to read here: The Alchemist, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho.

Why do you love your own local library? Let us know in a comment below!