With iconic architecture and impressive collections, discover some of the most beautiful bookstores and libraries in the world!

From the United States to Japan, discover libraries that are known for their remarkable exteriors. And that's nothing compared to the millions of books tucked into its walls.

So if you're a book reader or an architecture lover, start adding these 14 libraries and bookstores to your must-visit list.

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Most beautiful libraries and bookstores in the world

Strahov Monastery Library – Czech Republic

photo: alamy

The Strahov monastery in Prague was founded in 1143. Despite wars, fires and other disasters, the order lasted and built its library in 1679.

The library's best-known features are its remarkable ceiling, covered in biblical frescoes.

Royal Portuguese Reading Cabinet – Brazil

photo: alamy

Its limestone exterior was inspired by the famous Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where it was built before being shipped to Rio de Janeiro. And the interior is just as impressive: there's a red, white and blue stained glass window that lets in natural light through the ceiling, while an altar of silver, marble and ivory welcomes visitors into the building.

Tianjin Binhai Bookstore – China

photo: alamy

If China's Tianjin Binhai Library looks familiar, it's probably because photos of the building's futuristic design went viral when the building opened its doors in 2017.

George Peabody Bookstore, Baltimore – United States

Libraries around the world. photo: alamy

Easily one of the most beautiful libraries in the US, the George Peabody Library (part of Johns Hopkins University) contains over 300,000 volumes stacked in five decorative layers. The books are impressive, but another point that draws the attention of visitors is its architecture.

Royal Library of the Monastery of El Escorial – Spain

Most beautiful libraries in the world

photo: alamy

This Spanish library is not only a work of art, it is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally commissioned by King Philip II in the 16th century, the library's most dazzling feature is a series of seven frescoes depicting the liberal arts (music, rhetoric, astronomy, and so on).

The town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 minutes from Madrid, is a favorite of Spanish royalty and there's plenty more to see here besides the library, including a Surrey monastery and gardens.

Stuttgart City Bookstore – Germany

Most beautiful libraries in the world

photo: alamy

Situated in a concrete cube in the heart of southern Germany, this is certainly no ordinary library.

The main attraction – an upside-down pyramid-shaped five-story reading room – looks more like an MC. Escher draws instead of a library, until you notice the hundreds of thousands of neatly stacked books.

Trinity College Library – Ireland

Most beautiful bookstores in the world

Most beautiful bookstores in the world. photo: alamy

Trinity College Dublin is home to the Book of Kells, a 9th-century manuscript written by monks in surprisingly complex fonts and illustrations. Each page is like its own work of art.

But the big draw is certainly the library's Long Room; a 30-meter-long hallway stacked with 200,000 old books can give you goosebumps.

Alexandrian Library – Egypt

Libraries around the world. photo: alamy

Alexandria was once home to the most famous library in the world.

The circular structure, designed by Norwegian firm Snøhetta, is covered in sculptures made by local artists and is adjacent to a large reflecting pool. While there are many books in three languages (Arabic, French and English), there are also museums, a planetarium and a laboratory dedicated to the restoration and preservation of ancient manuscripts.

Livraria Lello – Portugal

Most beautiful bookstores in the world

Most beautiful libraries in the world. Photo: Pexels

Livraria Lello, also known as Lello & Irmão is one of the most emblematic and most visited spaces in the city of Porto, in Portugal. With more than 100 years of history, the space has exuberant architecture with a neo-gothic style and is considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.

The tourist attraction is a must for anyone visiting Porto. Every year more than 1 million visitors come to Lello to see its beautiful stained glass windows and the famous red spiral staircase that inspired the author of Harry Potter for your books.

New York Public Library – United States

Libraries around the world. Photo: Scott Sherman / The Nation

One of the great landmarks of New York City, the New York Public Library was founded in 1895 and its original architecture remains preserved to this day. Located in Bryant Park, in the heart of Midtown, the NYPL is surprisingly rich, with more than 55 million books.

Martian National Library – Italy

Most beautiful libraries in the world. Photo: Pexels

The National Library of Saint Mark is housed in a Renaissance building in central Venice, Italy, and maintains one of the largest collections of classical texts in the world. The library is named after Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice.

Zhongshuge Bookstore – China

Libraries around the world. Photo: Disclosure

Located on the 3rd and 4th floor of Zodi Plaza in Yangjiaping, Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing was designed by Chinese architecture studio XL-Muse, who came up with the idea of creating environments that would immerse visitors in the real world of books!

El Ateneo – Argentina

Most beautiful libraries in the world. photo: alamy

The El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore was chosen by the British newspaper “The Guardian” as the second most important in the world. Built inside the historic Grand Splendid cinema and theater, in the Recoleta district of Buenos Aires, the library is certainly a pleasant place to visit in the Buenos Aires capital and one of the best free tours to do at the destination.

United States Library of Congress – USA

Photo: Getty Images

The Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress. It is not only the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States, but also the largest library in the world due to the size of its collection, which has a collection in more than 450 different languages.

Read too:

» Discover the incredible bookstore that inspired Harry Potter in Portugal
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» Library in Rio de Janeiro is among the most beautiful in the world
» Best museums to visit in Vienna

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