Art of living/ CULTURE

Book Palaces: Exploring the World’s Most Breathtaking Libraries.

By Emmanuel Monvidran

Trinity College Library (1592), Dublin, Ireland.

Consultants Immobilier invites you on a journey through the memory temples that have defined their era. Guided tour!

With their endless shelves of books, these archives of our knowledge are more than mere storage spaces for academic and leisure reading. Behind every book lies an author, and behind every library, an architect! « I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library », proclaimed Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Trinity College Library (1592), Dublin, Ireland.

Dark oak wood, barrel-vaulted ceilings, white marble busts… Ireland’s oldest and largest library stores every volume published in the UK and Ireland since 1801. Constructed in the early 7th century, the ‘long room’ (62 meters long) houses 3 million volumes, including some of Ireland’s oldest and rarest books, alongside an ancient harp, the famous national emblem.

Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading (late 19th – early 20th century), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Designed by architect Rafael da Silva e Castro, this neo-Manueline style building rescued the Gothic-Renaissance style prevalent during the era of discoveries under King Manuel I of Portugal. Open to the public since 1900, it holds the largest collection of Lusitanian literature outside Portugal.

Wiblingen Abbey Library (early 18th century), Ulm, Germany.

Balcony, gold-adorned library, green and red marble pillars, polished wooden statues to porcelain, ceiling fresco… the university library at Ulm’s medical faculty dazzles with its baroque meringue decor and rococo flair.

Richelieu Library (1537), Paris, 2nd arrondissement.

Millions of books and periodicals, 10,000 medieval manuscripts… at the heart of the capital, the historic cradle of the National Library of France (BNF) has completed its 15-year modernization project. The famed Labrouste Room benefits from a new passage, restored heritage spaces, relics of the 17th-century Mazarin Palace (Mazarine, Mansart galleries, King’s cabinet…), and a new museum. The Oval Room (1897-1936) has been revamped, offering enthusiasts a general collection of 20,000 volumes. Bay windows reveal spaces of silence or archives without having to enter.

Saint Gall Abbey Library (1758), Switzerland.

Paintings, stuccos, floral balconies, parquet floors, precious marquetry… A riot of rococo extravagance and visual shock is guaranteed in the library of this Benedictine abbey, where the convent’s sisters offer tours.

Selexyz Bookstore (13th century), Maastricht, Netherlands.

Stripped of its religious function in 1794 by Napoleon’s army, this 12th-century Dominican Gothic church has been one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores since 2006.

Lello Bookstore (1869), Porto, Portugal.

Behind its facade featuring modernist and neo-Gothic motifs, this bookstore opened in 1906 delights book lovers (old, used, new) and tourists, who also find works translated into various foreign languages. The splendid curvaceous staircase leads to the tables of a pleasant café. It inspired J.K. Rowling for Harry Potter.

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