For over 4,000 years, libraries have been favorite places for education, rest and for meeting people.
Each one with a fascinating exterior and interior, I give you the most important libraries in the world.
Risen from the Ashes
The Herzogin-Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek in Weimar did not get its present name until 1991. Before that, it was simply called the “Herzogliche Bibliothek” for 300 years.
The building, with its famous rococo hall (see picture), received sad fame in 2004, when it was partially destroyed by a fire.
On October 24, ten years ago, the library was reopened.
Football pitch or Library?
The Technical University in the Dutch city of Delft is also worth a visit. You can get in without a student card.
Particularly striking is the sloping, grass field grown on top of the building. In the summer many students spend their lunch break there.
The cone, which pierces the building in the middle, is 42 meters high. Inside there is a bookcase, which covers four floors.
Black as Ebony
The British daily newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” listed the Biblioteca Joanina in Coimbra in 2013 as one of the most spectacular libraries in the world.
It was built during the reign of the Portuguese king John V, who commissioned the construction. All shelves are made of rose and ebony.
This is probably the most famous library in the world, that was opened for about 2000 years ago. Before its destruction, the library of Alexandria is said to have contained the knowledge of the world in about 490.000 Papyrus rolls.
It cost the government of Egypt 220 million dollars to rebuild it.
Some of the items of the St. Gallen monastery library in Switzerland have been stored there for over 1300 years. Visitors can also see the plan for the St. Gallen Monastery, the oldest building plan in Europe.
An Egyptian mummy is also owned by the library.
The Büchersaal (see picture) is one of the world’s most beautiful library rooms. The building has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1983.
Because of its head-like form, this library in Berlin is called “The Brain”. It houses numerous works for the philosophical faculty of the Freie Universität and has quickly become an architectural attraction.
The building was built by the internationally renowned architect Norman Foster and opened in 2005.
Rescued by the President
If you are on holiday in Washington, you should take a trip to the Library of Congress. This national library was founded in 1800, and only 14 years later it fell victim to a fire. Thomas Jefferson offered his private library, which was about 6,500 books, and it costed the library $24,000.
The main feature of the building is the renaissance styled main reading room (see picture).
64 meters long and 12 meters wide is the imposing, double-story “Long Room” in Dublin.
It is part of the old university library at the Trinity College. Originally the room was a bit less impressive – it had only a flat plaster ceiling.
But, in 1858 architects came up with the idea of removing the flat ceiling, increasing the roof level, and installing a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of oak.
A Global Player
With a stock of more than 30 million books and media, the National Library of China is one of the seven largest libraries in the world.
It was built in 1809, then still as the “library of the capital city”. From 1928 it was called “Peking Library”, and then after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, it was named “Beijing Library”.
Only in 1998 did the state approved the change to the current name.
Not so much a library, but more a bookstore. The Buenos Aires “Ateneo” building has a really twisting history.
In 1919 it was opened as a theater, but in the late 1920s it was converted into to a cinema.
In the year 2000 it was finally re-purposed to a bookstore.
Now you can find chairs for reading in what used to be theatrical lodges, while the stage offers coffee and cake.