Bibliotheca Alexandrina - or the Great Library of Alexandria - has been ranked by a leading travel publication as one of the best in the world.
Usually when Egypt finds itself ranked against the rest of the world, it is for something terrible. Often we chart high on lists to do with pollution, poverty, and penises. For a change of pace, we luckily we stumbled upon a Travel and Leisure positive list of the world's greatest libraries, and restoring our pride is none other than the infamous Alexandria Library.
Alexandria’s original library was destroyed by fire or battle more than 1,600 years ago. Today’s Bibliotheca Alexandrina seeks to recapture the original’s spirit of public learning. Opened in 2002, the massive disc-shaped building has a huge reading room that tilts toward the sea while the façade is covered in letters and characters from more than a hundred different languages. The building also contains a planetarium, four museums, academic research centers, and a multimedia presentation of Egypt’s heritage.
To show you how impressive it is to be listed, we decided to compile a list of somehow the most architecturally beautiful libraries that made the final cut.
Legend says the Jesuits had only one book when they started building the library in 1622; when they were done, the collection had swelled to 20,000 volumes.
Sou Fujimoto designed the Art University’s 26,900-square-foot space to be constructed from light-wood bookshelves walled in with glass. Even the stairs have built-in shelves, though they’re currently empty. Compared by Fujimoto to “a forest of books,”
Originally founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, the current structure was built beginning in 1712. The 200-foot Long Room icontains marble busts of famous writers like Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels). Many visitors come first and foremost to see the Book of Kells, a lavishly decorated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament.
Originally built in 1882, it was painstakingly reassembled on the top floor to house the library’s Shakespeare collection, which includes copies of the Bard’s first editions. The Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai was on hand to officially open the library in September 2013.
Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, stands guard over this commanding baroque library, dating from 1723. It was the palace library until 1920, when it became a possession of the state. Don’t miss the Globe Museum: it includes terrestrial and celestial globes made before 1850.