The most stunning bookshops and libraries around the world

Booklovers might want to sit down for this one, as these libraries might just take your breath away.

From super modern design in Germany to JK Rowling’s real-life inspo for Hogwarts, we’ve rounded up some of the most awe-inspiring bookshops from across the globe.

Take a seat and allow your mind to transport you to each of these readers’ havens.

Libreria Acqua Alta Venice, Italy

When your bookshop is set by a canal in a city that suffers from regular flooding, it makes sense to protect your stock as much as possible. This self-proclaimed ‘most beautiful bookshop in the world’ makes sure to keep its titles, along with maps, magazines and other miscellany, in a range of waterproof bins, bathtubs and even a gondola.

Fittingly, the shop’s name, Acqua Alta, refers to the high waters that would otherwise ruin the contents.

Find it at Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122.

Library of Birmingham England

Heralded as Europe’s largest regional library, the £189million Library of Birmingham is pretty awe-inspiring.

Its shimmering facade is clad with interlocking metal rings – inspired by the city’s Jewellery Quarter – and it’s designed to look like a stack of four rectangular volumes, staggered to create various canopies and terraces.

Other elements include an amphitheatre, rooftop gardens, a music library and several historic collections, including a 44,000-item William Shakespeare library.

Find out more here.

Bibliothèque Méjanes Aix-en-Provence, France

Originally created in 1810 to store the Marquess of Mejanes’s collection, it relocated a century later to a former match factory. Since 1993 this historic library has served as the hub for the Cite du Livre.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is the huge sculpture of three classic French novels that guard the entrance: Albert Camus’ L’Etranger, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince and Moliere’s writing.

Find out more here.

El Ateneo Buenos Aires, Argentina

There are no prizes for guessing what this incredible bookshop used to be – it started life as the Teatro Grand Splendid in 1919 before becoming a cinema ten years later.

In 2000 it was converted into what is surely one of the most dramatic bookstores in the world. Customers can sit in the former boxes to browse in style, while admiring the frescoed ceilings, ornate gilt carvings and plush red velvet stage curtains.

Find out more here.

Stuttgart City Library Germany

A dazzling white cube in Stuttgart’s Europa district, this £70million structure is a modernist multi-functional space. It stretches over nine storeys around a central open-plan space, each level connected by exposed staircases.

Books line the outer walls of each floor and at ground level is a waiting area, a newspaper-reading zone and sorting machines for returning borrowed items.

There’s also a sound studio, an animation library and a digital art gallery.

Find out more here.

George Peabody Library Baltimore, USA

The research-focused library of the esteemed John Hopkins University, this is located in the historical cultural neighbourhood of Mount Vernon-Belvedere.

Described aptly by its architect, Edmund G Lind, as a ‘cathedral of books’, the interior of this elegant 19th-century building features a 61ft-high atrium that soars upwards to a latticed skylight, flooding the tiled marble floors, cast-iron balconies and gold-scalloped columns with light.

Find out more here.

Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Perhaps best known for supposedly being the bookshop whose interiors inspired JK Rowling’s vision of Hogwarts – the author lived and taught English in Porto from 1991 to 93 – its fame and exquisite Art Nouveau interiors have seen up to 5,000 visitors a day explore its narrow passageways.

Hogwart-y elements of the building, constructed in 1906, include rich wood panelling, stained glass windows, and rich, crimson-carpeted spiral staircases. Sounds wizard.

Find out more here.

Zhongshuge Beijing, China

Located within a branch of upmarket department store Galeries Lafayette, this vast bookshop – spreading over 11,948 square feet – was inspired by the look and feel of classical Chinese gardens, many of which feature traditional circular ‘moon gates’.

These rounded openings give the impression that you’re passing through dizzying tunnels of books, while other architectural details include mirrored surfaces, a striking bamboo ‘grove’, plenty of reading nooks and a café whose curving layout is based on a mystical ancient painting.

Find out more here.

Klementinum Library Prague, Czech Republic

Is this a library or the home of an 18th-century nobleman? It’s covered in so many intricate frescoes, cornices and gilt decorations that it’s hard to tell. However, it is actually a collection of books belonging to Prague’s Jesuit university, which dates from 1722.

It forms part of the older Klementinum complex, which also housed church buildings, classrooms, a print room and a pharmacy for the inhabitants and wider community. Frustrated travellers will appreciate the collection of antique globes in the main hall.

Find out more here.

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