The Most Beautiful Libraries and Bookshops in the World
These beautiful libraries and bookshops are some of the most beautiful places in the world to enjoy a book. They are certainly wonderful places to celebrate the printed word this International Print Day, on October 17th.
Livraria Lello, Bookshop in Porto, Portugal
Livraria Lello’s thousands of books, winding staircase and quaint coffee shop draw the crowds in Porto. Its amazing interior is a fantastical combination of Arto Novo and Gothic and is said to have inspired JK Rowling’s descriptions of Hogwarts, after the writer spent some time teaching English in the city.
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Library in Florence, Italy
This library is part of the church of San Lorenzo, the church of the Medici family, and houses the private collection of the Medici dynasty. Designed by Michelangelo, it wraps around a cloister to create an atmospheric reading room that also hosts regular exhibitions.
El Ateneo, Bookshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina
In a former life, this amazing bookshop was Buenos Aires’ Teatro Grand Splendid. It become a cinema in 1929, before finally becoming El Ateneo bookshop in 2000. Its dramatic frescoed ceiling, ornate balconies and theatre boxes, and velvety red stage curtains hark back to its splendid past. Choose a book from the shelves, take a seat and relax in these beautiful surroundings or head to the stage to grab a coffee while you browse.
John Rylands Library, Library in Manchester, UK
This beautiful Neo-Gothic building houses a historic reading room and cosy café amongst the 1.4 million items in its collection of books, manuscripts, maps and works of art. With special events, family activities and tours scheduled through the year, there are plenty of ways to explore this historic building.
Klementinum, Library in Prague, Czech Republic
In the heart of historic Prague, the vast Klementinum complex is home to one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Situated on two hectares next to the Charles Bridge, the Baroque library is flamboyantly decorated with beautiful frescos and impressive domed ceilings and its astronomical tower offers sweeping views across Prague.
George Peabody Library, Library in Baltimore, USA
The George Peabody Library is part of the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore. Its gleaming marble floors, sky-lit cathedral-height hall, and balconies of ornate black cast-iron straddling between stacked Doric columns are home to five floors of tightly packed book stacks with impressive vistas across the library’s atrium.
Shakespeare and Company, Bookshop in Paris, France
Near the Notre Dame cathedral in the 5th arrondissement, this little Independent bookshop nestles in a quiet corner, specialising in English-language books and hosting a variety of author events. You might recognise it from the beginning of the film Before Sunset with Julie Deply and Ethan Hawke, or you might just love it for its quirky ambience.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Library in Alexandria, Egypt
Once home to the most famous library in the world, Alexandria is reclaiming its illustrious heritage with the establishment in 2002 of a new sleek granite library building sitting beside a curving sweep of reflecting pool and designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta. Collections span three languages (Arabic, French, and English) and the site also houses museums, a planetarium, and a lab dedicated to restoring and preserving ancient manuscripts.