Editors Note: This article was originally published by myself (Dylan) on Curious Expeditions. Due to some long overdue and much needed maintainence on Curious Expeditions the original post is no longer available. I decided to repost it here, updated with yet even more amazing libraries. I don't know why, but I seriously can't get enough. Hope you enjoy!

Theological Hall - Original Baroque Cabinets
Strahov Theological Hall - Original Baroque Cabinet
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Everyone has some kind of place that makes them feel transported to a magical realm. For some people it's castles with their noble history and crumbling towers. For others it's abandoned factories, ivy choked, a sense of foreboding around every corner. For us here at the Atlas, there has always been something about libraries. Row after row, shelf after shelf, there is nothing more magical than a beautiful old library.

On a trip to Prague, two members of the Atlas team had a chance to visit a particularly beautiful library. Tucked away on the top of a hill is the Strahov Monestary, the second oldest monastery in Prague. Inside, divided into two major halls, is a breathtaking library. The amazing Theological Hall contains 18,000 religious texts, and the grand Philosophical Hall has over 42,000 ancient philosophical texts. Both are gorgeous.

Strahov also contains a beautiful cabinet of curiosities, including bits of a Dodo bird, a large 18th century electrostatic device, numerous wonderfully old ocean specimens, and - for unclear reasons - glass cases full of waxen fruit.  Shocked into a library induced euphoria, we have attempted to gather together the world's most beautiful libraries, starting with our own pictures of Strahov. 

We hope you enjoy this trip through the world's libraries as much as we do.


Theological Hall; Statue of John the Evangelist Holding a Book
Strahov Theological Hall; Statue of John the Evangelist Holding a Book
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Strahov Philosophical Hall
Strahov Philosophical Hall
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Library of St. Gallen
Abbey Library St. Gallen, Switzerland
Image is by Candida Hoffer

Angelica Library
Angelica Library, Rome, Italy
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Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel, Germany
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Beatus%20Rhenanus.jpg
Beatus Rhenanus Library, Basel, Switzerland
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Bernadotte Library
Bernadotte Library, Stockholm Sweden
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Biblioteca Di Bella Arti
Biblioteca Di Bella Arti, Milan, Italy
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Biblioteca do Palacio e Convento de Mafra I
Biblioteca do Palacio e Convento de Mafra I, Lisbon Coast, Portugal
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Biblioteca do Palàcio Nacional da Ajuda Lisboa III, Lisbon, Portugal
Biblioteca do Palàcio Nacional da Ajuda Lisboa III, Lisbon, Portugal
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Biblioteca Geral University of Coimbra
Biblioteca Geral University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
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Biblioteca Palafoxiana
Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Puebla, Mexico
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Bibliotecha de la Real Academia De La Lengua, Madrid, Spain
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Bibliotheque_alencon_670px.jpg
Bibliotheque Alencon, Normandy, France
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Bilbliotheque Nationale de France
Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris, France
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bodlein.jpg
Duke of Humphrey's Library, Bodleian, Oxford University, England
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 Boston Copley Public Library, Boston, USA
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Old British Reading Room, British Museum, London, England
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Bibliotec Casanatense
Casanatense Library, Rome, Italy
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Cathedral Library, Kalocsa.jpg
Cathedral Library, Kalocsa, Hungary
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Chetham's Library, Manchester, UK.jpg
Chetham's Library, Manchester, UK
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Dutch Royal Library.jpeg
Dutch Royal Archives Library, Netherlands
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Biblioteca Escorial, San Lorenzo, Spain
El Escorial Library, San Lorenzo, Spain
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Frederick Ferris Thompson memorial Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA
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Peabody%20Library.jpg
George Peabody Library, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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Handelingenkamer Tweede Kamer Der Staten-Generaal Den Haag, Netherlands
Handelingenkamer Tweede Kamer Der Staten-Generaal Den Haag, the Hague, Netherlands
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Hereford Cathedral Chained Library.jpg
Hereford Cathedral Chained Library, Hereford, England
(Rare books were once kept chained to the bookshelf to prevent stealing.)
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Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar II, Germany
Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar II, Germany
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Joanina Library - University of Coimbra, Portugal
Joanina LIbrary University of Coimbra, Portugal
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Kremsmuenster Abbey Library, Kremsmunster, Austria
Kremsmuenster Abbey Library, Kremsmünster, Upper Austria.
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Library%20of%20Castilla-La%20Mancha%202.jpg
Biblioteca Castilla La Mancha, Spain
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library_of_congress_reading.jpg
Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA
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Library of Parliament Ottawa
Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada
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Library of St. Walburga, Sutphen, Netherlands.jpg
Library of St. Walburga, Zutphen, Netherland (Preserved from the 16th century)
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Bibliothek.Admont_gesamt.jpg
Library of the Benedictine Monastery of Admont, Austria
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Library%20of%20the%20Prussian%20King%20Frederic%20the%20Second%20in%20Potsdam%2C%20Germany.jpg
Library of the Prussian King Frederick the Second in Potsdam, Germany
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Melk-Library%20Small.jpg
Melk Monastery Library, Melk, Austria
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National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
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North Reading Room, UC Berkeley Library, CA
North Reading Room, UC Berkeley, California, USA (Terrific reader suggestion)
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New York Public Library, New York, USA
New York Public Library, New York, USA
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Plantin-Moretus, Antwep, Belgium
Plantin-Moretus, Antwerp, Belgium
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Queen's College Library, Oxford
Queen's College Library Oxford
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Real%20Gabinete%20Portugues%20De%20Leitura%20Rio%20De%20Janeiro%203.jpg
Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (Possibly the most beautiful library of them all.)
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Glasgow_School_of_Art_Library.jpg
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Library, Glasgow School of Art, Scotland
(Added on excellent reader suggestion.)
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Riggslib.jpg
Riggs Library, Georgetown University, USA
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RIJKMUSEUM-AMSTERDAM.jpg
Rijkmuseum Library, Amsterdam
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 Jay Walker Private Library
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Riksdagen Library, Swedish Parliament Library, Stockholm
Riksdagen Library, Swedish Parliament Library, Stockholm, Sweden
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Heritage Museum Library, St. Petersburg, Russia.jpg
Tsarskoe Library, Heritage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
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St.%20Florian%20Monastery%20Library%202.jpg
St. Florian Monastery-Library, Austria
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Sansovino Library, Rome, Italy
Sansovino Library, Rome, Italy
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Sorbonne Library, Paris, France
Sorbonne Library, Paris, France
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State%20Library%20of%20Victoria.jpg
State Library, Victoria, Australia
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STIFTSBIBLIOTHEK-KLOSTERNEU%20%28%29.jpg
Stiftsbibliothek Klosterneuburg, Klosterneuburg, Austria
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The%20New%20Library%20of%20the%20Royal%20College%20of%20Physicians%20of%20Edinburgh.jpg
The New Library of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
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Theology Room at  St. Deiniol's library, North Wales
Theology Room at St. Deiniol's library, North Wales
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TRINITY-COLLEGE-LIBRARY-DUB%20%28%29.jpg
Trinity College LIbrary, AKA, The Long Room, Dublin, Ireland
Ihmihj Sohrs

University Library Helsinki
University-Library, Helsinki, Finland
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Vatican.jpeg
Vatican Library, Vatican City, Rome
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Vienna%20Austrian%20National%20Library.jpg
Austrian National Library, Vienna, Austria
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Waldassen%201.jpg
Waldsassen Abbey Library, Bavaria, Germany
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Wren%20Library%2C%20Trinity%20Small.jpg
Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, England
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Yale%2C%20Beinecke%20Rare%20Book%20and%20Manuscript%20Library.jpg
Yale, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
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Amelia%20S.%20Givin%20Library%20Mount%20Holly%20Springs%2C%20PA
Amelia S. Givin Library, Mount Holly Springs, PA
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biblio.jpg
Bad Schussenried Bibliothekssaal, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
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Bibliotheque%20solvay%20wall.jpg
Bibliothèque Solvay, Brussels, Belgium
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Boston Athenæum, Boston, MA, USA
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Codrington.jpg
Codrington Library, All Souls College, Oxford, England
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cornell-law-school-library-reading-room.JPG
Cornell Law School Library, Ithaca, NY, USA
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84370702_12a16fd6d9_b.jpg
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C., USA
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900888676_ce0f02a9d0.jpg
George Vanderbilt's Biltmore House Library, Asheville, N.C., USA
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71760851_e0d74f9ebc.jpg
Harper Library, The University of Chicago, IL, USA
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John Rylands Library
John Rylands Library, Manchester, England
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202146600_37b58ca97a.jpg
Klementium Library, Prague, Czech Republic
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375747852_cc3d8baec9_b.jpg
Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales
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Ireland National Library
National Library of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
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Old Chicago Public Library (Current Cultural Center), Chicago, IL, USA
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Pierpont Morgan Library, NY, NY, USA
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Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany (The reading room pictured is entirely underground, the ceiling being level with the grass.)
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Sterling Memorial Library
Sterling Memorial Library, Yale, New Haven, Connecticut, USA (The rest of Sterling Library is incredible, but I particularly enjoy that wonderful library specialty, the card catalog)
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The Grolier Club Library, NY, NY, USA
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Law Library, Iowa State Legislature, IA, USA
Law Library, Iowa State Legislature, IA, USA
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The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, Northeast Vermont, USA
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Thomas Crane Library
Thomas Crane Library, Quincy MA, USA
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Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Toronto, Canada
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800px-UMichiganLawLibraryInterior.jpg
University of Michigan (Old) Law Library, MI, USA
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Widener Library, Harvard
Widener Library, Harvard. Cambridge, MA, USA
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University of Washington's Suzzallo Library Graduate Reading Room
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Salamanca University Library
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Wiblingen Monestary Library
Wiblingen Monestary Library, Ulm, Germany
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A number of the more beautiful pictures in this set are by the outstanding photographer Ms. Candida Höfer. Let us highly suggest buying "Libraries" by the Candida Höfer. The opening pictures of Strahov are by Michelle Enemark (FUll disclosure:my wife) and can be found at the Curious Expeditions flickr account. Many other library pictures at the Flickr "Libraries and Librarians" group. 

For those of you still in the grip of Librophilia, if that's possible, you can have a more immersive experience at the panoramas of the Handelingenkamer and Waldassen libraries, as well as watch a lovely video of the Bernadotte Library. For those looking for a gorgeous library closer to home, look no farther then "Libraries We Love" a book and blog dedicated to wonderful libraries in the U.S. Also of interest is "The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World."

If even those can't satisfy your desires try "The Renaissance Library Collection" which sells calenders, greeting cards, and posters of nothing but, yes, libraries. A tip of the hat to excellent blogs The Nonist and Sheila Omalley who had previously compiled some lovely library images. A number of the beautiful images in the compendium are from that ever wonderful resource Flickr. For additional source attribution please click here. Finally, if anyone feels that any particularly beautiful library has been overlooked please let us know.

 

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