The world’s most beautiful libraries – in pictures

In a new Taschen book, the Italian photographer Massimo Listri travels around the world to some of the oldest libraries, revealing a treasure trove of unique and imaginative architecture.

Central photo: Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Photograph: Massimo Listri/Taschen


The world’s largest monastery library was built in 1776 and is known for its Baroque architecture, art and manuscripts.


This library is 88 metres long and the bookshelves contain more than 36,000 leather-bound volumes


This is the largest library in Ireland and is the permanent home to the Book of Kells


The oldest library in Naples which has been open to the public since 1566


This monastery library was built between 1680 and 1689 and contains about 160,000 volumes


This institution was founded in 1837 by a group of Portuguese immigrants to promote culture amongst the Portuguese community


The oldest library in Switzerland is also one of the earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world


This library contains more than 2m documents and was the inspiration for the Boston Public Library


Established in 1885, it is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands


The library boasts two grand baroque halls but visitors are unable to go inside them: it was found that fluctuations in humidity could affect the paintings


It is one of only two libraries in the world that houses bats to protect the books against insects

The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries is published by Taschen