Best Libraries In The World

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Best Libraries In The World

“I have always imagined paradise will be a kind of library.” Jose Luis Borges

Libraries are not just stern places where loud conversations – even accidentally – are greeted with cut-throat looks from the opposite side of the reading table. Libraries are full of stories and anecdotes waiting to be uncovered. Their architecture and interiors are often unexpected and sometimes even astonishing.

 National Library, Beijing, China

The National Library of China is the largest in Asia and one of the largest in the world  What makes it even more special? Its collection of cultural and historical literature is vast with more than 24 million books. If you’re not after literature or a place to read, then its collection of manuscripts and inscriptions may tempt you. Among its collections are manuscripts from Song, Shang, and Ming dynasties, stone tablets known as Xiping Stone Classics, tortoise shell inscriptions, and many ancient Chinese writings.

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

Founded in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland. Built between 1712 and 1732 the Old Library is the University’s earliest surviving building. The library houses Ireland’s National Treasure which is the Book Of Kells sacred manuscript created by Celtic Monks in about 800 AD which features the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is decorated with metallic gold Celtic style writing, symbols and stunning artwork. Walking through the doors of the Long Room is suddenly overwhelming. IT is a 65 meter long gallery housing about 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books under a jaw-dropping barrel-vaulted ceiling.The weather being famously unpredictable in Dublin makes the library is a great place to stay dry.

Real Gabinete Português de Leitura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This is Brazil’s most important library, a Neoclassical treasure trove chronicling the country’s history in more than nine million items. A highlight is the Teresa Cristina Maria collection: a 22,000-strong photo series, depicting key Brazilian events and notables. 

Joanine Library at University Of Coimbre, Coimbre, Portugal

Coimbra’s university, founded in 1290, is Portugal’s oldest and most distinguished university. The Baroque library was built between 1717 – 1728 and houses about 40,000 books which are – in part – protected by bats (bats eat moths). It is really impressive  The library is a Portuguese National Monument and is one of the oldest of the university.

Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève, Paris, France

Located opposite the Pantheon is the historic public library Sainte Genevieve. The steps have become somewhat famous after Woody Allen chose this location for his film Midnight In Paris.The vast collection of the Abbey  Saint Genevieve was in need of a home and it took seven years of construction in 1839 by architect Henri Labrouste. The public university library now holds around two million books and documents and the magnificent cast iron ceiling of the two story reading room is breathtaking.

National Library of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic

The National Library of the Czech Republic is part of the Clementinum, a massive complex of historical buildings that also holds the Astronomical Tower (a weather center since 1775) and the Mirror Chapel, a popular setting for classical music concerts. Regularly named one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, this Baroque marvel dates back to 1722. this The largest hall of the library is also the most impressive. Featuring a balcony with a highly ornate railing and stairs, the Library Hall is decorated in rich golds, mahogany woods, and ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl. The beauty is in the original details: the labels on the bookcases have been there since the 1700s and none of the features (including floors or wood trims) have been replaced since the library’s creation.The Library Hall is also home to some of the oldest books in Europe.

The Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Copenhagen Library known as the Black Diamond juts over the canal. The interior boasts a huge ceiling fresco and canal views. The permanent exhibition, Treasures in The Royal Library, currently includes a Gutenberg bible, philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s notes, and Hans Christian Andersen’s diary.

Bibleoteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City, Mexico

This library was designed by Alberto Kalach and the construction was completed in 2007. Inside, instead of plain white walls and carpet, you’ll see transparent walls, mismatches floors, balconies and pathways, and books, lots and lots of books.

 The Library Of  Alexandria, Alexandria,  Egypt

The ancient library of Alexandria was built by the order of Ptolemy ll in the third century BC. It contained 700,000 books and was the greatest library in the world at that time. This was the first public governmental library in history. Any scholar such as Archimedes who studies in the library of Alexandria had to leave a copy of his writings in the library. This was one of the reasons the library was rich with books, researchers, and studies that were contemporary at the time. There were many theories as to how the library burned -one was that it was Julius Caesar. Centuries later, Hosny Mubarak made an international architectural design competition to build a library on that site.  The prize was sixty thousand American dollars which was won by Snohetta, a Norwegian architectural firm. The oval shape of the library from outside is a symbol of the continuity of life. The library is surrounded by a great wall that was made out of Aswan Granite and it contains writing and inscriptions in 120 languages. The objective of the new library is the same objective of the old library: to act as a public research library and to support the people of the Arab world and the Middle East to retain their old position as scholars and researchers in different fields of science.

NY Public Library, NY, USA

The New York Public Library  which opened in 1911  by combining the collections of the Astor and Lenox Libraries with a $2.4 million trust from Samuel J. Tilden that was given to, “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York.”It was the largest marble building in the United States and  home to over one million books.The Beaux Artes building is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd St. Two stone lions guard the entrance. Though originally named Astor and Lennox,  Mayor Fiorello La Guardia renamed them Patience and Fortitude during the Great Depression.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

Things I Have Learned In Dublin, Ireland

“I live in Ireland every day in a drizzly dream of a Dublin walk” John Geddes

 Dublin was founded by Vikings, who settled in what they called the “Norse Kingdom of Dublin” in the 9th century.

The average temperature in January in Dublin is 41°F and in July, it is 63°F.  It is estimated that fifty per cent of the city’s residents are under twenty-five years old. Dublin has the youngest population in Europe. My advice is dress warmly and be ready to party. (St Stephens Green)

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Dublin houses Ireland’s National Treasure which is the Book Of Kells sacred manuscript created by Celtic Monks in about 800 AD which features the Four Gospels of the New Testament. It is decorated with metallic gold Celtic style writing and symbols and stunning artwork. This sacred Book of Kells can be found in the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

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In 1759 Arthur Guinness made the deal of his life.  He leased a brewery in the center of Dublin for 45 pounds annual rent and took it for 9,000 years!  It is now where the most famous Irish alcoholic drink is made.  Ten million glasses of Guinness are produced daily all around the world. Dubliners love beer, they drink 9800 pints every hour between 5:50 pm on Friday and around 3 am the following Monday.  Also a donation to the Blood Bank in Dublin is paid with a pint of Guinness since it is recommended to replace the iron lost during the donation.

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Soccer is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen. Rugby is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans.

In 1816 this  bridge opened  to any Dubliner willing to pay a ha’penny, the exact price of the then redundant ferry  to William Walsh, ferry owner and alderman of the city. He retired his leaking ferries and was compensated with £3,000 and the bridge lease for one hundred years. (Ha Penny Bridge)

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Dublin Writers Museum is a must visit if you are into literature and writing, or if you want to understand Dublin’s literary heritage. You get a truer understanding of Ireland if you get  to know its writers.There are two main museum rooms. Room one traces the roots of Irish poetry and storytelling, and it showcases writers with international status such as Swift, Goldsmith, Sheridan, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde.  Room two deals with writers such as Yeats, Synge, James Joyce, Sean O’ Casey, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker Frank O’ Connor, Brendan Behan and many more.

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The title of Bram Stoker’s book “Dracula” is said to come from the Irish words “Droch Ola” meaning bad blood..

Christ Church was famous for the first performance of Handel’s Messiah.

The Abbey Theatre was founded as The National Theatre Of Ireland in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.  Its goal  was “to bring upon the stage the deeper emotions of Ireland.” and that is still true today.

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The oldest pub in Ireland is called the Brazen Head and is in Dublin .

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Temple Bar is one of the oldest areas in Dublin. The modern street pattern of Temple Bar is based on the medieval plan of the Old Viking City.  Today Temple Bar has many newer arts venues, cool boutiques and galleries, restaurants,bars,  award winning cultural and residential buildings. Temple Bar is home to one of Europe’s oldest built theatres (Smock Alley Theatre), one of Ireland’s smallest theatres (The New Theatre), one of the best examples of a Victorian theatre (The Olympia) and one of Ireland’s best know modern theatre spaces and arts centres (Project Arts Centre)

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After Francis Bacon’s death his studio was moved to the Hugh Lane Gallery. You look through a  window at the 7,000 items they shifted: a huge easel, piles of paints, jars, brushes, rags, pots, books, photos, towels and empty boxes of Krug Champagne. A fantastic sight.

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Built between 1220 and 1260  St Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from the medieval city of Dublin. Today St Patricks is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland and is still the largest cathedral in Ireland. Its most famous Dean  Jonathan Swift  is one of around 700 burials here.

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Many of U2’s back catalogue of albums were recorded in their home city. Windmill Lane Studios was the place where U2 recorded their early work and first three albums. The site at Windmill Lane Studios is covered in graffiti from fans that have paid pilgrimage from all over the world and is known as the “U2 Wall.”

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Dublin is a city of storytellers. Everyone has a story to tell.  If you happen to be in a pub telling a story, chances are there will be someone there who knows someone in it. So be careful with your facts and if you embellish, disguise your characters well. And if you don’t know any stories, you will by the time you leave.

Fly safe,
JAZ