Touring the world’s most beautiful libraries

Los Angeles Central Library
The Los Angeles Central Library downtown has made Fodor’s list of the most beautiful libraries to visit. Shown are the multi-colored mosaic-like dome and globe chandelier on the second floor of the library.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The best libraries were created not just as repositories of books but as big, open public spaces that celebrate the connections even the most humble citizens have to civilization and literary culture. But we don’t often think of a library itself as a tourist destination.

Now the travel site Fodor’s has named “The World’s 20 Most Stunning Libraries,” inviting its readers to work a visit of said libraries into their summer travel intineraries.

There is the 15th century Tripitaka Koreana, which is in the Temple of Haesina in the mountains of Korea, and which houses the most extensive collection of Buddhist texts in the world. And also the circular Radcliffe Camera, which is part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

Six United States libraries make the Fodor’s list: the Peabody Library in Baltimore, the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, the Central Library in Seattle, and our very own Los Angeles Central Library. Fodor’s calls the Los Angeles Library “a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture” and notes the murals by Dean Cornwall that depict California history.


Other libraries on the list include the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, Italy; the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome; the Trinty College Library in Dublin; Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris; the Rijksmuseum Research Library in Amsterdam; and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, a modern tribute to one of the most famous libraries in history.


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