If you are a travelling bibliophile or are travelling with a bibliophile, you’ll know where to find them when they go missing — libraries. Be it a small hole-in-the-wall bookstore or a grand three-storey Victorian style library, they may be in Europe, but their explorations happen via words and images. So, for those of you who travel with writers of the past eras and poets of the present, we have a few cool places for you to hangout in Europe. These libraries are some of the oldest in EU and look straight out of a Pinterest board saved as ‘every place I want to read in’. By Shubhanjana Das
1. Michaelangelo’s Laurentian Library, Italy
The ‘Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana’, or Michaelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy is considered to be one of the master artworks of the maverick himself. Commissioned by Pope Clement VII, the library opened its gates seven years after Michaelangelo’s death. It shelters the ‘Nahuatl Florentine Codex’ a priceless historical treasure, which holds information of Aztec living before the conquest. The library has a jaw-dropping 120,000 prints and approximately 15,000 manuscripts, papyri, and other documents. Take our money, now!
2. National Library of France
Every book-lover or bibliophile must have dreamt of a library like the National library of France to vanish in and read for days on end. This one, commissioned by Charles V in 1368 is France’s first royal library and is home to forty million items from 14 million books and journals, newspapers and magazines, recordings, maps, stamps, and drawings besides over 180,000 manuscripts and prints.
3. The Library of El Escorial, Spain
Located in the historical seat of the King of Spain, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, The Library of El Escorial makes it difficult for the onlooker to take their eyes off of this architectural and artistic masterpiece. The vaulted ceilings of the library are all adorned with immaculate fresco paintings, each depicting one of the seven liberal arts: rhetoric, dialectic, music, grammar, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. Thanks to Philip II who was responsible for adding books to this library, it now has more than 40,000 volumes and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Admont Abbey Library, Austria
Yes, this library in Austria is not only the world’s largest monastery library but also the sight of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast photo shoot! The baroque architecture is at boastful display here at Admont Abbey along with frescoes on the ceiling depicting the progression of man’s knowledge up to divine revelation, with the embodiment of the ideals of the Enlightenment.
5. Biblioteca Joanina, Coimbra University, Portugal
Another example of baroque decor, the Biblioteca Joanina holds key to volumes that date from before 1800! The interiors of the library hold testament to the fact that Joao V, Portugal’s Sun King, dedicated a considerable part of his time to arts and this library was a result of the wealth brought in by Portugal’s imperialist ventures.