Top 20 Most Extravagant Libraries in the World

Libraries are hallowed places of learning. The hush you feel on a visit to a library, as well as all of the knowledge contained within its walls, makes every beautiful in its own right. However, there are some libraries that are extravagant in beauty and wealth, showcasing architecture as much as books. 

You might be transported to another time, or enjoy the extravagance that comes with wide open spaces and the finest materials. Sometimes the greatest extravagance comes from being unadorned. In any case, there are some truly beautiful and extravagant libraries around the world. Here are 20 of the most beautiful libraries you can visit:

European Libraries

It’s probably not much of a surprise that a number of libraries in Europe are extravagant and beautiful. After all, many of them are housed in gorgeous palaces and monasteries, and were commissioned by the rich and powerful of times past. 

  1. Austrian National Library: Without a doubt, one of the most opulent libraries in the world is the Austrian National Library. Housed in a beautiful palace in Vienna and elegantly adorned, the original library began in the 14th Century. There are few libraries that match it for sheer extravagance.
  2. Abbey of Saint Gall Library: The library housed in this 8th Century abbey is one of the most beautiful and lavish in the world. It is the oldest library collection in Switzerland, and the library is considered to be one of the most perfect library rooms in all the world. You can access a number of manuscripts and ancient books.
  3. Melk Monastery Library: In Europe, many of the most beautiful and extravagant libraries are in monasteries, and the library in the Melk Monastery is no exception. This beautiful library is rich in history, books and reflected wealth from ages past. It’s yet another extravagant monastery located in Austria.
  4. Admont Library: This amazing library is largest monastery library in the world. And it’s located in…Austria! The library itself is a beautiful and extravagant work of art, featuring frescoes, paintings, statues and priceless books. Founded 1074, this library has been a focus of cultural collection for centuries.
  5. Rijksmuseum Research Library: Located in a beautiful building in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, this art library contains some of the most important works of Dutch art. It also has numerous volumes and exhibits. It’s a beautiful library located in a large and lavish castle.
  6. Wiblingen Monastery Library: Located in Ulm, Germany, this monastery library was remodeled during the baroque period, even though the monastery was founded in 1093. As you might imagine, the lavish baroque remodeling included frescoes and friezes, as well as plenty of gold leaf to go around, making this a rather extravagant library.
  7. National Library of Belarus: Meant to be a repository of Belarusian culture and heritage, this is a relatively new building constructed in Minsk. It includes beautiful modern architecture and is made from fine materials.
  8. Sansovino Library: You would expect any library in Italy to be grand and extravagant, and this library is no disappointment. Built between 1537 and 1588, this library was built in the classical style and contains artwork and is constructed from the finest materials.
  9. Vatican Library: The Vatican Library is a baroque masterpiece, and, as you would expect from one of the wealthiest organizations in the world, this is a rather extravagant library, filled with rarities and fine examples art, manuscripts and more.

Libraries in the Americas

Although newer, these libraries are often known for their architectural beauty and the extravagance that went into their building. You can find these libraries in North America and South America, and enjoy their beauty.

  1. National Library in Rio de Janeiro: If you are looking for a beautiful library, extravagantly built, the National Library in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil offers you access to more than nine million items. Housed in a palace, this library is the largest in Latin America.
  2. Jay Walker’s Private Library: Located in New England, this library is the private geek preserve of entrepreneur and inventor Jay Walker is a study in wealth. From historical artifacts from King James to Sputnik to ruby-bound books, this amazing library is definitely one of the most extravagant in the world.
  3. Library of Parliament: Located in Ottawa, Canada, this library is extravagant in beauty. Highly polished wood adds a beautiful glow, and the architecture is something worth seeing. One of the most tastefully elegant libraries in all the world.
  4. The George Peabody Library: This lovely library, located at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is the very picture of elegance and refinement. 
  5. Library of Congress: This U.S. library, located in Washington, D.C., is beautifully constructed. Beautiful architecture, and fine materials, make this one of the best libraries in the world for books and information as well as its looks.
  6. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library: The extravagance of this Yale University library is in the rare books and manuscripts it houses. It is beautifully constructed, and one of the coolest libraries in the world.
  7. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library: Another library with rare books. It also includes a number of Lewis Carroll first editions. This extravagant library has an elegant simplicity that is hard to find.
  8. The Morgan Library & Museum: Pierpont Morgan’s library is an extravagantly beautiful affair that includes many lovely museum pieces, as well as books, manuscripts and music.

Libraries Elsewhere in the World

There are also some beautiful libraries in the Middle East, and in Australia. You can find some truly extravagant libraries outside Europe and the Americas, and these are some of them.

  1. The New Library of Alexandria: It’s famous ancient counterpart gone, Egypt spared no expense in creating a new library in Alexandria. This one is a beautiful structure, and meant to be a place of learning and information.
  2. State Library of Victoria: Located in Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, this lovely library has an interesting design, and looks great, as well as being one of the more extravagant libraries.
  3. National Library of China: Looking like a beautiful pagoda, the National Library of China is the largest library in Asia. It’s a beautiful library and extravagant because of the sheer size — 23 million books.