Splendid Repositories of Learning

“Let us go now to that library furnished not with many books but with excellent ones…”

Libraries down the ages have been revered as places that preserve the knowledge produced by mankind and pass it on to future generations.
The history of libraries is as old as written history itself. The first libraries were in fact centers where the cuneiform clay tablets made in the Assyrian period were archived. The Alexandria Library, and the Library of Pergamon and the Celsus Library of Ephesus in Western Anatolia were the leading libraries of antiquity. The most important library of Islamic civilization meanwhile was, without a doubt, the library created at Baghdad in the Abbasid period, said by some to contain a million, by others five million, volumes. This library, which unfortunately was destroyed in the Mongol invasion of the city, disappeared together with a great store of past knowledge. In medieval Europe the library tradition began with the monastery libraries and their collections of works on Christian teleology, and became more diversified during the Enlightenment. The pleasure of reading a book in the place where it belongs, i.e., in a library, is a feeling like none other.

Alexandria Library
Burned and destroyed in wars and conquests down the ages but always preserving its legendary splendor, the Alexandria Library recently rose again from its own ashes. This library, which has managed to preserve its former splendor on the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean, was reopened to bibliophiles at Alexandria in 2002 following a lengthy restoration. 

The library of st. Catherıne’s Monastery
This library in a monastery on the slopes Egypt’s Mt. Sinai, a mountain sacred to the celestial religions, houses invaluable manuscripts and documents.
The manuscripts in St. Catherine’s Library have the distinction of being the world’s second largest collection of teleological manuscripts after that in the Vatican Museum at Rome.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The founding of this library goes back to the 1800’s and President John Adams. When it opened to the public in 1897, it was already well-established as the world’s largest, most costly and most secure monument-museum.

Old British reading room, London
This venue was a favorite haunt of prominent figures from the world of art, literature and poetry as well as famous men of state, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain to name a few.

Gabbey library of Saint Gall
Founded in the 8th century, the Abbey Library of the St. Gall in Switzerland is without a doubt one of the world’s richest medieval libraries.

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura
This magnificent library in the capital, Rio de Janeiro, of Latin America’s largest country dazzles the eye with its collection of more than 350,000 volumes.

Herzog August library, Wolfenbüttel
Boasting Europe’s largest and foremost world-scale collection of books on Medieval European history and culture, this library has been standing since 1666.
Numerous concerts, exhibitions and seminars are held under the auspices of the library every year.

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
One of the world’s largest and best known libraries, the roots of Paris’ Bibliothèque Nationale go back to 1368. Opened to the public at the end of the 17th century, the library was nationalized in 1799 after the French Revolution.

Vatican library
Experts date the history of the Vatican Library, one of the world’s oldest and most famous living libraries, all the way back to the 4th century. Meticulously preserved here is a collection of maps, documents, manuscripts and printed books invaluable for the world’s history and cultural heritage.

İstanbul, city of libraries
Enriched by the earlier Byzantine Empire, Istanbul reached the zenith of its splendor with the Ottoman Empire when the city’s libraries constituted the finest examples of its rich high culture. In addition to the priceless manuscript works in the Süleymaniye Library, many of which are one of a kind, the Atıf Efendi, Hacı Selim Ağa, Köprülü, Millet, Nuruosmaniye and Ragıp Paşa manuscript libraries, too, are cultural treasure troves for the valuable works they house. Dozens of public, university and research libraries as well make Istanbul a city rich in libraries. The Specialized Library of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums is noteworthy for its impressive interior and extensive collection while the University of Istanbul Rare Books Library is a favorite with scholars for its matchless volumes. The Topkapı Palace imperial libraries, too, possess an enormous collection of books. Wherever they are in the world, books continue to enlighten mankind through the knowledge they contain and the exquisite venues in which they are preserved.

Trinity College library, Dublin
Ireland’s most famous educational institution whose foundations were laid in the 8th century, Trinity College Library is one of a handful in the world. One of the world’s most active libraries, it boasts thousands of manuscripts and rare works in its collection of over five million volumes.