A haven for the tomes of Fantasy, Fiction, History, Art and Science, libraries are the home of brilliant minds. Let’s take a look at some of the most breathtaking libraries of our times.
Books are and will always be the only true treasures for the mankind. Within the folds of papers and ink lie the keys that open locked minds.Our very own little gateways to unknown worlds,theyopen the doorways to the endless realm of imagination. Genuine timetravel machines in their own right, they take us to unknown worlds beyond the sands of time, space and even the cosmos. Galileo went ahead of his time when he said books give us superhuman powers and 370 years later his compeer, Carl Sagan, followed suit when he quipped books are a proof that humans are capable of magic.
A haven for the tomes of Fantasy, Fiction, History, Art and Science, libraries are the home of brilliant minds. Let’s take a look at some of the most breathtaking libraries of the world. Some of these libraries define the finesse of roman architecture and hold beauty, depth and marvellous construction at the base of their hearts.
Admont Abbey, the Benedictine Monastery library, Austria
The Benedictine Monastery of Austria, also called the Admont Abbey, is the world’s largest monastery library. Stationed at the picturesque Enns river, it is the oldest remaining monastery in Styria. The picturesque interiors are reminiscent of traditional Baroque architecture.
The library was commissioned by Abbot MatthäusOffner and built by Graz Master Builder Josef Hueber. It is unique to note that the abbey was completed by 1074 while the library materialised much later in 1776. Sectioned into three parts its total area is a colossal 10, 580 sq ft. The 16th century frescoes beautifully depict the growth of human knowledge up to the point of divine revelation. Apart from the frescoes that remind you of the wonderous interiors of the Sistine Chapel, the library also has five famous sculptures by Baroque sculptor Josef Stammel.
To name a few,‘the four last things’, ‘the last judgment’, ‘Heaven and Hell’ are the ones that are exceptionally famous. The Admont Abbey library is one glorious piece of architecture standing witness to the changing times and history.
Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland
The magnificent Old Library of Trinity college takes you back to the 18th century with its cobbled pathways and venetian architecture. Thomas Burgh, an Irish architect and military engineer, who briefly attended the Trinity college designed the Old library.
The library houses the celebrated Book of Kells, the 9th century Italian Gospel book containing the four gospels of the New Testament. The library is also famous for the Long Room which houses more than 2, 00,000 of the library’soldest bookspreserved in fine Oak cases. The 65-meter-long room was built in between 1712-1735 and had a flat plaster ceiling with an open gallery. Since 1801, the library has enjoyed the right to own a free copy of every book published in Britain and Ireland. Tohouse its ever-increasing collection the roof was raised into a barrel-vault structure. Marblebusts of great writers and philosophers of Trinity college line the long hallway. From Aristotle to Jonathan Swift all are at home in the Long Room.
Library at the royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
A prized monument of the Spanish renaissance times, El Escorial was built in the 16th century between 1563 to 1584. Declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, it was conceived by King Philip II as a burial ground, a Hieronymite monastery and a palace for his father the Holy Roman emperor Charles V.The floor plan was developed by Juan Buatista de Toledo who chose a gridiron scheme taking inspiration from the grill on which the patron of the building, San Lorenzo was martyred.
Assembled in a quadrangle the structure houses a Church, built in 1582; a monastery built in 1584 and a beautiful library built in 1592. The interiors were decorated by notable 16th and 17th century Spanish and Italian artists. The initial frescoes were painted by artists Pellegrino Tibladi and Federico Zuccaro. Later works include the ones done by El Greco, Luca Giordano and Claudio Coello. Apart from the frescoes, stunning sculptures also form a part of the spectacular interiors. The main façade is adorned by the statue of San Lorenzo while the six statues of Old Testament Kings guard the basilica. The frescoes, sculptures and architecture were envisioned together and carefully planned to form a unique artistic symmetry.
General Library at University of Coimbra, Portugal
Built in 1513, the General Library at University of Coimbra is housed in two of the most remarkable and exquisite buildings of the 18th century Europe, the BibliotecaJoaninaor the Joanina Library and the Edifice Novo. A stunning piece of architecture, the Joanina was built during the reign of Portuguese King John V and itis one of the best symbols of a Baroque library. Thestructure is an exquisitenationalmonument reminiscent of European history and culture.
An exclusive public library, the General Librarywas the very first library of its kind in Europe to provide subject catalogues from 1743 till 1748 and gave full access to its holdings even during the forbidden Salazar regime. It still holds innumerable documents of specific significance to the European history.
The interiors of the Joaninaexuberate ornate baroque architecture with a touch of gilded finishes. Divided into three rooms, the interiors are separated by archways and are filled with double storied book shelves with painted ceilings. Built with thick walls and teak doors it has beautiful oak book shelves.
George Peabody library in Baltimore, Maryland
The existence of the George Peabody Library dates back to the foundation of the Peabody institute in 1857. Opened to the general public in 1878, it was designed by the Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind. Its most prominent section is the Peabody Stack Room which has five levels of ornamental cast-iron balconies rising to a stupendous height of 61 ft.
Its striking architecture has been discussed at length in the James D. Dilts and Catharine F. Black’s Baltimore Cast-Iron Buildings and Architectural Ironwork. Other than the architecture another striking feature of this library is its collection. The collection which is based on general reference covers every subject from the 19th century scholarly interests except music.
Akanksha, an avid reader and writer who is often struck by a sense of wonder and amazement by the concept of architecture be it a historical building, an urban home or a simply drawn architectural sketch. A weaver of words and stories, she captures every bit of the artistic persona of a beautiful design in her heart through words.