Take a Tour of the Most Stunning Libraries in Europe

If you’re a book lover, you won’t want to miss out on these hidden gems. Europe is home to some of the world’s most famous libraries, and we’ve narrowed down a list of eight lesser-known institutions that are sure to impress.

From historical landmarks to grand monuments of learning, these libraries are a testament to the power of knowledge in society. Our list includes some of the most stunning and little-known libraries all over Europe, so be sure to add them to your next itinerary.

1. Stadsbiblioteket, Stockholm, Sweden

You can easily reach the Stadsbiblioteket, Stockholm’s main city library, with a 15-minute walk from the city center. The building was designed by architect Erik Gunnar Asplund, and it showcases Stockholm’s 1920s neoclassicist style. The library’s reading room is particularly impressive, featuring a curvaceous design and a technicolor interior. Located in the Vasastan neighborhood, the library is surrounded by excellent dining options, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.

2. Warsaw University Library, Warsaw, Poland

Located in central Warsaw, the University Library has been in existence since 1816, but its new building was inaugurated in 1999. The building’s design is both august and playful, with green trusses in the reading room and pink accents along a copper facade. The library entrance features blocks with writings in various languages, including a text by Plato in ancient Greek and one in ancient Polish. The interior of the library is equally impressive, with edification waiting for you. Additionally, the library boasts four separate, lush gardens on its terrace, adding a touch of nature to the building.

3. Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, Italy

If you’re a book lover, you can’t miss visiting the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, Italy. This library is home to an impressive collection of Greek, Latin, and Asian manuscripts, and it’s considered one of the most important libraries in Italy. The building was designed by Jacopo Sansovino and completed in the 1500s, featuring an elegant and unique style for the period. The library’s reading rooms are adorned with murals by famous Venetian artists such as Titian and Tintoretto, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts as well.

4. Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Library in Copenhagen, also known as “The Black Diamond,” is a modern architectural masterpiece. The library was constructed in 1999 as an extension of an older institution and is located in the heart of the Danish capital. The exterior of the library is a mesmerizing black cube with glossy granite-and-glass surfaces, while the interior features twisting shapes, wide spaces, and escalators connecting multiple levels.

The library has seven floors, and its terrace can accommodate large crowds for events such as concerts and plays. In addition to its primary functions as a library, the building also houses the National Museum of Photography, a bookshop, cafe, and restaurant. Guided tours are also available for the public to explore this magnificent building.

If you are a lover of contemporary architecture, the Royal Library in Copenhagen is a must-visit destination.

5. Vienna University of Economics and Business Library

While the National Library in Vienna is a popular tourist destination, the library at the Vienna University of Economics and Business is a modern literary masterpiece that is worth a visit. Originally built in 1898, the library was renovated by Zaha Hadid Architects after a fire in 2005. The interior of the library features innovative and fluid forms with bright lighting, creating a unique and immersive learning environment. Additionally, the complex boasts a dramatic cantilever that extends over the plaza below, inviting visitors to explore the higher levels of the library. Whether you’re a student or a tourist, the Vienna University of Economics and Business Library is a must-see for anyone interested in modern architecture and literature.

6. John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK

If you’re a book lover, a visit to the John Rylands Library in Manchester is a must. Located in the heart of the city, the neo-Gothic building was designed by architect Basil Champneys in the late 19th century. The library is the largest in the UK and welcomes over three million students, researchers, and visitors per year. The reading room is a sight to behold, with high columns, a vaulted ceiling, and intricate decorations that give the act of reading a spiritual significance. The library houses an extensive catalog of books, including many in special collections. Don’t forget your camera, as the reading room is very photogenic.

7. Central Library Oodi, Helsinki, Finland

The Central Library Oodi in Helsinki, Finland, opened its doors in late 2018 and is the centerpiece of the 37-branch Helsinki City Library. The three-story structure is made entirely of glass and wood, showcasing the superb Finnish architecture and emphasizing sustainability. From certain angles, the building resembles a set of waves, while from others, it looks like a futuristic ship. The library offers a variety of activities, including studying, working, visiting with friends, and attending organized events.

8. Stiftsbibliothek Admont, Admont, Austria

Located in the heart of Austria, the Stiftsbibliothek Admont is the largest monastery library in the world. This impressive building, completed in 1776, features high baroque architecture with intricate details such as cornices, cherubs, and gilded surfaces. The main hall is adorned with seven ceiling frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte, depicting the “spirit of the Enlightenment.” The four bronze statues in the corners of the main hall are particularly stunning, representing death, the resurrection, hell, and paradise. A visit to this library is a must-see for any history or architecture enthusiast.