guest post: five historic libraries to turn you into a reader
We love travel and we are sure everyone who visits us here knows that. But other than travel, our other love is reading. And so we couldn’t resist this opportunity when we were approached to feature a guest post about libraries.
Shhhhh. From monastic reading rooms to an astonishing everyman’s book trove, Holiday Lettings takes a temporary vow of silence and explores five of the most historic libraries on the planet.
George Peabody Library, Baltimore
Photo credit: By Matthew Petroff (license) via Wikimedia Commons
From its marble floor to the decorative iron balconies all the way up to its vertiginous 61-foot roof, this labour of love is undeniably impressive.
Founded by philanthropist George Peabody for the people of Baltimore to enjoy, and now part of John Hopkins University, this huge temple of learning contains around 300,000 books. These mostly date from the 18th to 20th centuries and cover a broad range of reference topics, including history, art, religion and travel.
Trinity College Library, Dublin
Photo credit: Superchilum (license) via Wikimedia Commons
Trinity College’s Old Library is Ireland’s largest. It specialises in early printed works and dominates this attractive city-centre campus. The main attraction for visitors is the impressive Long Room (65 metres long, to be exact). Here you can marvel at the extravagant illustrations and graceful calligraphy of the Book of Kells, an ancient illuminated manuscript dating back to 800 AD.
See if you can spot writer Jonathan Swift among the pale marble busts. Then check out the barrel ceiling, a later development devised when the library’s groaning shelves called for an extra level to be added.
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Photo credit: Koen de Geus (license) via flickr.com
Part of the prestigious University of Oxford, the Bodleian is a must-see attraction on a visit to this genteel city. Walk the hallowed halls, from the hushed reading rooms to the Divinity School, to the Exhibition Room, then step back out into the quadrangles to admire the elegant frontage.
On your tour you may think you recognise certain spots – that’s because parts of the Bodleian featured in the Harry Potter films. Check online before making a special trip, as certain rooms close for university ceremonies and private events.
The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro
Photo credit: Os Rúpias (license) via flickr.com
The pale limestone facade here reveals a stunning interior heaving with around 350,000 volumes of Portuguese literature. It’s the largest assemblage of Portuguese works outside of Portugal itself.
Chandelier-lit, adorned with carved wooden arches and packed almost up to its soaring, ornate ceiling with valuable literature and New World maps, grand doesn’t quite cover the magnificence of this reading room. Time to take a seat at one of the dark wooden desks and put on your most studious face…
Strahov Monastery Library, Prague
Photo credit: Pascal Hassenforder (license) via flickr.com
Head to the imposing Strahov Monastery to see its two historic library spaces, lined with around 200,000 texts. The 17th-century Theological Hall is dotted with antique globes and features an entire wall of Bibles in various editions and languages. All of this is overlooked by a jaw-dropping ceiling fresco by painter Siard Nosecký.
Move on to the Philosophical Hall, a newer 18th-century addition, which sports another ceiling fresco by Vienna’s Anton Maulbertsch. You won’t be able to tell, but false book spines hide secret staircases up to the higher levels here. Be sure to book in advance onto a guided library tour to guarantee a glimpse of these awe-inspiring rooms.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, it was selected by us to be featured. This is a guest post written by Holiday Lettings, a Tripadvisor.com company.