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Whenever I heard the word “library”, I always got cold shivers down my spine as I remembered the long, tedious hours of study hall back during my high school years. It meant endless hours of boring homework instead of hanging out with my friends. Then one day, I saw a list of the world’s MUST-SEE-LIBRARIES and the curious travelholic in me decided to click on the link. I was stunned into silence and I began wishing that I had gone to a university that had a stunning library. Maybe I would have loved studying a little bit more!
The first known library was discovered in the first ancient civilization in southern Mesopotamia in Sumer, which is now modern-day Iraq. Here, clay-tablets dating as far back as 2600 B.C. were discovered. Other libraries filled with personal books were in Greece in 5 B.C. The Library of Alexandria in Egypt was the largest and most important library in the ancient world.
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The Clementinium – Prague, Czech Republic
Then a few months later, we went to Prague to celebrate our one year anniversary back in 2014 and I learned that there were 2 beautiful libraries there and I knew I had to see them!Unfortunately, we only had time for one! So we went to the nearest, located in the heart of the Old Town of Prague!
- It’s history dates back to a chapel dedicated to Saint Clement in the 11th century.
- It was once the largest Jesuit college in the world.
- The first recording of weather for Czech lands began here in 1775 and still continue to this day.
After that, I knew I was hooked and needed to see more!
Strahov Monastery Library – Prague, Czech Republic
- There are more than 42,000 books in this hall!
- The highest rows of books are only accessible from a gallery with hidden spiral staircases, masked with false book spines.
- This hall has over 18,000 books of which give the hall its name.
- . The northern wall contains only different editions of the Bible or parts of the Bible in different languages.
- The type of literature stored in this hall is depicted in the pictures in the wooden cartouches making this a rudimentary library.
Wiblingen Monastery Library – Wiblingen, Germany
- The abbey was founded in 1093.
- The roof was constructed in 1774 and spans the entire church and is considered a masterpiece of Baroque workmanship and architecture.
Admont Abbey – Admont Abbey, Austria
- Admony Abbey was founded in 1074.
- The library hall was built in 1776 and was considered to be the “Eighth World Wonder” after its completion.
- A terrible fire destroyed almost the entire monastery, but the library was sparred.
- During the 1930s, the abbey was forced to sell many of its art treasures to survive and the monks were evicted, not returning again until 1946.
Austrian National Library – Vienna, Austria
Upon arriving in Vienna, I knew I was hooked for good on seeing as many libraries as I could for the rest of my life. I discovered the Austrian National Library, another of Europe’s most beautiful libraries, situated in the Hofburg Palace. As one of the best things to do in Vienna, I knew I had to see this one as well!
- It is the largest library in Austria.
- During the Medieval Period, Austrian Duke Albert III moved the books of the Viennese into a library.
- The library was onced called the Hof-Bibliothek (“Imperial Library”) but changed the name in 1920.
- The Prunksaal is the center of the old imperial library located between Josephsplatz to the north and the Burggarten to the south.
Once I entered this library, I was overwhelmed by the size of the library and the endless rows and rows of books and with each book case there was a large wooden ladder to go with it, adding to the beauty! I could imagine Bell swinging to and fro the rows of bookshelves on the ladders singing her heart out merrily!
Now that I’ve had a dose of stunning libraries, I hope to visit as many as I can as we travel around Europe! They make want to grow my own little library! Visiting a library is by far one of the most unique things to do while city tripping and it’s not a place many people often think about visiting. But, despite being a place of silence, thought and art and philosophy, it’s a great place to appreciate some serious artwork! So Stay tuned for more as we check out more places!
If you’re interested in visiting Europe and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or the Lonely Plant Travel Guide! Without these guides, I would be lost! These are my travel Bibles!