Written by JAMES GABRIEL MARTIN
Libraries hold a special charm, offering serenity and knowledge to all who visit. They can be historical havens or sleek modernist sculptures, with architectural details that delight and astound.
With that in mind, here’s a roundup of some of the most amazing libraries across Europe.
Wirtschaftsuniversität Bibliothek in Vienna, Austria
For a modern aesthetic, the library at the University of Economics and Business is a must see. Parts were originally built in 1898, but it was renovated by Zaha Hadid Architects after a fire in 2005.
The innovative interiors with their sinuous movements and bright lighting give the impression that they came from another planet. It's the biggest library in German-speaking countries.
Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark
Known as "The Black Diamond", this is a true neo-modern jewel, located in the historic centre. Built in 1999, it's an extension of the old library and one of the city's most significant buildings.
The black cube is mesmerising on the outside with its otherworldly lines and glossy black granite and glass surface, while on the inside it has twisting shapes, wide spaces and escalators.
The building houses The National Museum of Photography, a bookshop, a café, and a restaurant. The library also runs guided tours for the public.
Warsaw University Library in Poland
This library is located in the city centre and was founded in 1816, although the new building was inaugurated in 1999. Modern and colourful, it includes a terrace with four different gardens.
Its entrance contains blocks with writings in various languages, including a writing of Plato's in Ancient Greek and also one in Ancient Polish.
The entire external structure is in copper and the greenhouse-like building blends with the vegetation which climbs up the exterior towards the roof garden.
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, Italy
This is one of the largest and most prestigious libraries in Italy. Today, Marciana Library contains one of the most important collections of Greek, Latin and Asian manuscripts in the world.
The building is located off San Marco Square and was completed in the late 1500s. It was designed by Jacopo Sansovino, and has an elegant and unusual style for the period in which it was built.
John Rylands Library in Manchester,
The University of Manchester Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband. In 1889, the architect Basil Champneys designed the neo-Gothic building, which took 10 years to build.
The library houses an extensive catalogue of books and special collections. The Reading Room, with its high columns and vaulted ceiling, provides the perfect photo backdrop.
Stiftsbibliothek Admont in Austria
Right in the centre of Austria lies the largest monastery library in the world. The building was completed in 1776, in Baroque style, and inside you can find various artistic features.
The seven ceiling frescoes were inspired by the “spirit of the Enlightenment” and were painted by the then 80-year-old Bartolomeo Altomonte (1694 – 1783).
Central Library Oodi in Helsinki, Finland
Inaugurated at the end of 2018, it's futuristic architecture displays it as somewhat more than just a library: from some angles the building looks like a set of waves and, from others, a ship.
The structure is made entirely of glass and wood and, as well as being a masterpiece of Finnish architecture, is also sustainable. Here you can study, work, visit with friends, and organise events.
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