Even if you aren't necessarily a bookworm, antiquated and famous libraries can be fascinating. Whether you're attracted to the exquisite architecture or the look of century-old book bindings, it's a wonderful experience to add to any itinerary.
While you brainstorm your next vacation, scope out the most beautiful libraries in the area. If you're thinking about Europe travel to Ireland or Italy, or even a trip to Egypt, here are a few of the world's top options. Don't forget to buy international travel insurance before you take off on a literary adventure.
1. Trinity College Old Library in Dublin, Ireland
In the heart of the Trinity College campus is the Old Library, one of Dublin's top sights. According to Architectural Digest magazine, it holds the largest collection of books in Ireland in the Long Room, which stretches for more than 60 metres. The Long Room contains two stories of seemingly endless floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of dusty literary antiques, marble busts of famous writers and encased pages from the Book of Kells. This ancient manuscript is one of the library's big draws for tourists. The Books of Kells is an illustrated copy of the four Gospels of the New Testament, which has been preserved and displayed for the world to see. It dates back to the ninth century, a fact that may seem unbelievable when you see the artwork. However, the library has video clips and informational panels to demonstrate how the pages were created centuries ago.
According to the college's website, Trinity was founded in 1592 and currently has a student body of 17,000 people. Students come from every area of the small country and several different nations to focus on one of the programs in the 24 academic schools. Trinity has been deemed one of the world's top universities. With alumni such as playwright Samuel Beckett, author Oscar Wilde and poet Jonathan Swift, it's not surprising that Trinity College is such a world-renowned school.
2. Marciana Library in Venice, Italy
This library is certainly worth a visit, especially because it's located in one of Venice's tourist centers - Piazza San Marco. Built in the 16th century, the Marciana Library is across from the Doge's Palace. Although construction began in 1537, it took almost the entire remainder of the century to complete. Inside the magnificent structure is ceiling and wall artwork by famous artists such as Titian and Tintoretto, not to mention a staggering collection of printed materials. The Marciana holds more than 24,000 prints, 75,000 books and 13,000 manuscripts, according to Travel + Leisure magazine. Part of this reserve came from a law that mandated a copy of every book published be donated to the library, which was placed on printers in 1603. Travel + Leisure explained that tours are offered daily in English. Don't miss the chance to see Saint Mark's Basilica, the beautiful clock tower or the Campanile tower while you're in the square.
3. Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt
Although the current Bibliotheca Alexandrina was built in 2002, the concept is based on the original library, which was built in the third century B.C. That structure was destroyed in the third century, and with it one of the biggest collections of information about the ancient civilization, according to Architectural Digest. The disc-shaped building is expansive, with enough space to house its four museums, planetarium, research centers and specialized libraries. There's also a room for virtual reality, art galleries and a conference center. Travel + Leisure explained that the facade of the library is covered with characters and letters that come from more than 100 different languages.