10 Of the Most Amazing Libraries Your Instagram Didn’t Know
Come for the books, stay for the selfies.
26 September 2020
All Credits: PA
Consider the world’s grandest, most majestic buildings. There’s palaces, cathedrals, skyscrapers… libraries?
More commonly associated with dust than spectacle, for students libraries are often synonymous with boredom, but there are some photogenic readings rooms that belie their reputation and then some.
These picks, researched by holiday rentals search engine Holidu, blends classic with contemporary to find Europe’s best and brightest libraries, from campus eco-builds to medieval monasteries in the foothills of the Alps…
1. Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, Germany
A modern masterpiece by Korean architect Eun Young Yi, this angular library is neat and tidy in a way your bedroom could never be. A geometric courtyard of pristine white walkways, whoever its cleaners are, we want them.
2. Sainte-Geneviève Library, Paris, France
A traditional library with reading lamps on every table, just across the square from the Pantheon, the Sainte-Geneviève is bathed in history. Once used by Jules Michelet and Victor Hugo, it features prominently in the works of Simone de Beauvoir and James Joyce, and once employed a young Marcel Duchamp.
3. Wiblingen Abbey, Ulm, Germany
An outrageously opulent library with almost as much marble as paper, this Benedictine monastery hails from Ulm in Southern Germany. Built in the ‘rococo’ style, every surface is coated with frescoes, sculptures and elaborate ornamentation.
4. Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, Italy
A vast, Venetian library renowned among scholars for its collection of classical manuscripts, this prestigious institution dates all the way back to the late renaissance. Gilded with works by Titian and Veronese, among others, the building lies sandwiched between the Grand Canal and the Piazza San Marco.
5. Warsaw University Library, Poland
With greenery snaking around its sides and a botanical garden on the roof, Warsaw University Library is all about beauty through nature. The plant-heavy design has earned the building several awards, and it’s freely accessible to the public.
6. Oodi Central Library, Helsinki, Finland
With barely a straight edge in site, this effortlessly serene, open plan library epitomises the fluidity of modern design. An eco-friendly, three-storey, glass-and-wood monolith, the Oodi is just as contemporary as it looks, and was inaugurated at the end of 2018.
7. Admont Abbey Library, Austria
The largest monastery library in the world, the fabulously decadent Admont Abbey was the brainchild of 18th century architect Josef Hueber. Four bronze statues adorn the main hall, representing hell, paradise, the resurrection, and death.
8. Royal Library Copenhagen, Denmark
A building of two halves, the angular jet black exterior gives way to a soft, undulating interior, that looks out over the city centre and the Strait of Øresund. Nicknamed the ‘Black Diamond’, it’s one of a handful of world libraries to contain escalators.
9. John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK
A late-Victorian, neo-Gothic monster in the heart of Manchester, the John Rylands Library looks like a fortress on the outside, and a cathedral on the inside. Best of all is the collection of 1.4 million items, among them a world-class roster of first editions. That should keep you going for five minutes.
10. WU Wien Library, Austria
Rebuilt by the studio of Zaha Hadid after a fire, this sinuous, ultra-modern, whitewashed structure is part library part optical illusion. Try not to get lost, as too long roaming the passageways might result in going slightly mad.