For a lover of books and travel what could be a better activity than visiting libraries around the world?! From beautiful old libraries to modern buildings there are so many worth seeing and they are usually free to go into. While I don't always sit and read, the feeling of walking through large rooms filled with books is enough to satisfy my inner book-worm. So, in no particular order, here are some incredible libraries I have visited around the world.
A little hard to find among the sprawling buildings of the university but when you do it is worth it. There are mixed reviews about which parts you can go into as a member of the public but we managed to find a friendly librarian who took us on our own little tour (free of charge). The highlight was the Aula Magna, a beautiful room lined with books from floor to ceiling with globes standing next to wooden reading desks and ladders leading to the higher shelves.
This one is free to enter and has brilliant hallways to walk through as well as stunning reading rooms. In the children's section you can see the soft toys which inspired the characters of Winnie the Pooh. There is also a great shop with lots of book related gifts.
Jose Marti Provincial Public Library, Santa Clara, Cuba
Technically not a tourist attraction, we found ourselves invited inside for a tour with the security guard and a Danish family we had met a few days earlier. The place was closed for the day but usually functions as a public library. To me it looked more like a museum set up to show what libraries looked like 50 years ago. Huge wooden book shelves, two ancient computers and a paper system for categorizing and checking out books. One wall was painted with a giant mural of Mother Earth. Although it had a bit of a ghost-town feel this was an interesting experience and very different to most other libraries I've experienced.
Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Weimar, Germany
This is an amazing library with a very interesting history. Entrance is limited to 290 people per day and costs €7.50. We went in the morning and got in without an issue. There was an audio guide available in many languages and is free. It explained to us about the history of the library and how lots of it was lost in a fire in 2004. There are videos and exhibits showing the painstaking process of restoring both the library and many of the priceless books.
Library of Alexandria, Egypt
If you're like me this name conjures up images of an ancient library filled with scrolls. However, this is a brand new building built in 2002 to commemorate its namesake which was destroyed in a fire. Entrance to the library is around €5 and cheaper for students (Egyptians are free). The building includes an impressive collection of books in a large reading room. There are also several other rooms and a shop. Downstairs there is an exhibition hall with a collection of ancient artefacts, this costs extra, The best view of the library (in my opinion) is from the outside where you can clearly see the amazing architecture of the building.