The best libraries also make for the best cultural starting grounds
Within the walls of the best libraries lie entire worlds at hand's reach. For both casual readers and story devourers, having a fresh dose of literature to enjoy while on a trip is not just pleasant, but can enhance the experience. A new and exciting destination can make the story that much better.
Surprisingly for bibliophiles, what is most often overlooked when carefully choosing or planning a trip itinerary, are not the museums or the parks, but the libraries. Home to not only some of the most exquisite collections of books that would please any book lover, libraries can convey the life and history of a city in a distinct and unrivaled way.
These treasures should no longer be forgotten, but perhaps become the primary reason to travel to some of the great cities of the world.
Boston Public Library
Located in Copley Square, the BPL hails as America’s first free, large municipal library. When it first opened in 1848, there were 16,000 volumes housed within its walls; today, the library has expanded exponentially with 23 million catalogued items, which include founding father John Adams’ private collection, first edition folios from William Shakespeare, and dozens upon dozens of priceless works of art.
The Bates Hall, located on the second floor, isn’t just a peaceful place to explore literature old and new. This decadent room is also considered to be one of the most architecturally significant rooms in the world.
Serving as both a museum and a library, it is easy to get lost in the amount of history amassed over the years. However, the central courtyard is a unique feature not to be skipped over. A frequent hosting ground for weddings, it is the perfect place to while the day away, enjoying a new book, sipping on some coffee and people watch.
Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina
(National Library of the Argentine Republic)
The grounds to this unique library hold a very special place in Argentine history. Prior to the construction of this biblioteca (which took 30 years!), this was the location of the Unzué Palace, the former home to President Juan Perón and his beloved wife, Eva.
Though this is where the former First Lady of Argentina passed away, their home was torn down in a politically charged push. Thanks to the famous musical Evita, Perón is an unmistakable presence in pop culture.
Within her own country, she has gone on to become a national symbol of hope. Her memory is given homage by a lovely statue at the foot of the library. The strangely shaped concrete building is surrounded on all sides by the luxurious green grounds. Affectionately known as the Reading Garden, benches dot a fountain, trails, and a gorgeous night time view of the surrounding urban area.
This library is a direct reflection of the political ebbs and flows of Argentina, you will not only be enjoying their vast collection of literature, but drinking in the country’s rich history as well.
Note: While it is free to enter the library, you’ll need to bring some sort of ID to make a library card. So make sure to take along your passport or driver’s license!
Imagine transporting yourself back in time 2000 years. You find yourself inside one of the world’s lost treasures, halls and rooms filled to the brim with some of the day’s foremost works and manuscripts. The Library of Alexandria, the biggest and best library of the ancient world, is also one of the oldest mysterious; no one is quite sure when or how this place was lost to time.
But two millennia later, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina looks to be its modern counterpart. Perhaps in an attempt to compete with its ancient self, this library goes above and beyond housing millions of pieces of literature, and is definitely more than just a stunning reading space.
While gazing at the picturesque Mediterranean, you can also experience a planetarium, wander through multiple research halls, and make your way through an impressive two dozen art galleries, museums, and exhibits. It’s hard to decide who was luckier, you or the ancient Egyptians!
The Royal Library of Denmark
Affectionately referred to as the Black Diamond, this is one of the best libraries in the world as a representative of national pride. Founded almost four centuries ago, it has amassed almost every single Danish book ever written, all the way back to the first, published in 1482.
As the largest library in Scandinavia, the Royal Library has stockpiled an extraordinary 33.3 million pieces. If the sheer size hasn’t overwhelmed you, consider taking in a jazz performance, listen to world renowned lecturers from around the world in the Queen’s Hall, or admire Danish painter Per Kirkeby’s 210meter ceiling mural in the lobby.
But for a truly special treat, enjoy your newly borrow novel up to the roof terrace. The panoramic views of the harbor will create a magnificent background to your literary indulgence.
Though every city boasts many a museum, of art and history and everything in between, a museum lacks a certain quality. Distinguished and often beautiful, their exhibits and displays are ever changing. A library, however, remains an everlasting testament to not only the literary world, but to the cities and countries they call their homes.
The best libraries also make for the best cultural starting grounds, and a great place to start any trip. Make the time for exploring libraries, as it surely will not be a decision you will soon regret.
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