When I travel, I always love exploring unique places like churches and libraries. Not only are they completely captivating in their beauty, but they tell a story rich in history, art and culture. One that teaches us to appreciate things we sometimes take for granted. Like books for example! When was the last time you just strolled through a library enjoying the sight of wall-to-wall books?
In honor of back-to-school season, I put together this list of pretty amazing libraries around the world. Wherever you or yours are going back to school, I hope they have a great year and visit the library often! Yep, I’m such a nerd!
Trinity College Old Library, Ireland
This spectacular library at Trinity College is definitely a must-see if you are vacationing in Ireland. Located in the heart of Dublin, you’ll find the Old Library an easy and enjoyable journey back in time. Built in the 18th century, it is most famous as the home of the Book of Kells, an illuminated gospel manuscript created in the 9th century. If you love Dan Brown, you’ll definitely enjoy the rich symbolism and imagery. Be sure to visit the Long Room located on the second level. The impressive and stunning display of oak bookcases holds 200,000 of the Library’s book collection.
Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
Who knew libraries could be so cool? Well the Bodleian, or “The Bod” as it is sometimes called, has definitely achieved cool status. Its official duty is to serve as the main research library at the world-famous Oxford University. It is one of the oldest libraries in Europe and home to nearly 11 million items in its collection. Even though it’s old and scholarly, the Bodleian is cool enough for Hollywood producers to use it in film making. Three Harry Potter movies and X-Men 4 were partially filmed at the Bodleian. Yes, it was the Hogwarts library!
Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland
When you think of dying and going to library heaven, this is what it looks like, right? There are so many reasons to visit Switzerland anyway, and now this luscious library just tipped you over the edge. The Abbey of St. Gallen is such a wonder that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the books and manuscripts are part of one of the oldest collections in Switzerland, it’s really the calming, beauty of the place that makes it a wonderful experience. You’ll want to grab a book, sit down and relax…and stay all afternoon.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore
If I had a giant mansion and 300 thousand books, I might build something that looks like this. I think you’ll agree this is a pretty magnificent way to display your book collection. Located at the Peabody Campus at Mount Vernon Place, you’ll find the research library of John Hopkins University. The library’s collections can be enjoyed by anyone who visits, and its breath-taking architecture and design resembling a “cathedral of books” is definitely one of the most beautiful in the world.
Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen University, Scotland
I really admire the amazing architecture of the new Sir Duncan Rice Library. One of the newcomers on my list, it was officially opened in September 2012 by Queen Elizabeth. Designed as a meeting place and cultural center for the community, its bold lines pull you into the literary landscape. You can visit the cafe’ on the ground floor or head up to the 7th to soak-in panoramic views of the city. The library provides over 1,200 study areas for its students and visitors, so feel free to bring any work you need to catch-up on.
Melk Abbey Library/Monastery, Austria
If you find yourself taking a cruise down the Danube River, be sure that it stops-off at Melk Abbey. Located between Salzburg and Vienna you’ll find this massive monastery featuring a school, church and incredible two-story library. The library’s setting is superb and you can actually see the secret passageways that open between the shelves where the monks would sit and read. Yes, even after all this time, you can still see monks in their robes studying. The monastery has become a school with more than 700 students.
Phillips Exeter Academy Library, New Hampshire
Another noteworthy addition from the twentieth century, the Phillips Exeter Academy Class of 1945 Library is the largest secondary school library in the world. Designed by Louis Kahn, and considered one of his better works, be sure to stop by and enjoy this architectural gem. The experience includes wooden carrels and a Harkness table on the main floor which encourages discussion and sharing of ideas among the Academy’s students. It will leave you wishing you could go to school there. Ummm…maybe just for a week or two.
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