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

Old World Palaces And Castles

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Palaces and Castles

“ And if she asks you why, you can tell her that I told you, that I’m tired of castles in the air “Don McLean (I love that song)

Castles and palaces are pieces of the past. They are evocative of the people who lived in them many centuries ago. They are rich in folklore and history and often built with astonishing craftsmanship and innovative design. Here are some of the palaces that I have toured. Many of these photos were before I was blogging so less palace and more look I was there shots.

Alhambra – Granada, Spain

fullsizeoutput_5ea7Buckingham Palace – London, England

Buda Castle – Budapest, Hungary (view near castle)

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Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – Venice, Italy

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

Neuschwanstein – Hohenschwangau, Germany

Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

Peterhof, (known as Petrodvorets and Petergof) – Petergof ,Saint Petersburg, Russia

Pitti Palace – Florence, Italy

Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic

Schoenbrunn – Vienna, Austria

Trakai Castle – Trakai, Lithuania.

Palace Of Versailles, Versailles, France

Fly safe,

JAZ

Safest Countries To Visit Now

Safest Countries To Visit Now

“These are all I have.I do not have the wide,bright beacon of some solid old lighthouse, guiding ships safely home, past the jagged rocks. I only have these little glimmers that flicker and then go out.”  Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood

“A person isn’t safe anywhere these days.” How often have I heard that lately – terrorism, zika, gun violence. Before that it was the fear of aids, dengue, swine flu and malaria. So for those of you who would like to lessen the odds,  these are some of the safest countries to travel to.

Slovenia is a relatively safe country to visit. They have a strong economy and a stable democracy. The days of being part of communist Yugoslavia ended when they established their independence in 1991. They are members of both NATO and the EU. You should probably use tick repellent in the beautiful national parks.

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Japan is safer than most countries. It is definitely safer then the countries we come from. They have a very low crime rate and Japanese don’t worry about locking their doors or walking home late at night alone which is a nice way to live. Is it 100 per cent safe ?- no.

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Americans believe that Canada is a crime free oasis. Violent crime is very low but purses and wallets do often go missing. Don’t leave your things unattended,

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There is very little crime in Switzerland but most of it is geared to tourists. Car theft, pick pocketing and purse snatching are common in tourist areas. Sometimes football games get a little rowdy and you might see police in riot gear.

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I’m surprised that the Czech Republic has such a high safety rating. I’ve been to Prague a few times and I didn’t feel that safe. Then again, nothing happened to me. Don’t exchange money on the street. Petty theft is very common in tourist areas and taxi drivers are known to cheat you. It’s always best to get a taxi in front of a hotel. If you have a problem, the police station is open 24 hours a day and has English translators.

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Portugal is one of the safest countries to visit. That is good for me to know because I am going there soon. If you get very drunk and it is late at night, you could become a target for thieves. Violent crime is rare but they do have a few gangs that hang out on the beach late at night. A late night beach walk toward a group of people who look like they might be trouble is probably not a good idea. Also if anyone approaches you to buy drugs or anything on the street like sunglasses, which could turn out to be drugs, just say no.

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New Zealand is a very safe place to travel with few diseases, a great healthcare system and a low crime rate. The terrain can be challenging outside of the main city. You need to be reasonably fit to enjoy the new Zealand bush. New Zealand’s clear, unpolluted atmosphere and relatively low latitudes produce sunlight stronger than much of Europe or North America, so if you don’t wear sunblock, be ready for a major sunburn.

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There is no travel advisory in effect for Austria and it is one of the safest countries in the world. You might get a stomach ache from eating all that schnitzel, sacher torte and strudel. There are very few violent crimes but bicycle theft is becoming a problem. Also don’t walk in the bike lanes. As in the Netherlands, you could easily be hit by a cyclist. I just read that racism is a problem (not a violent one) especially in villages where there are no non-white people. What exactly is considered non-white to an Austrian anyway? Could be anything. I think I have to disagree with this one though all the lists say it is very safe.

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Travelers do not worry about their safety in Denmark. Denmark is the second most peaceful country in the world according to the Global Index. it score very well in the level of violent crime and likelihood of violent demonstrations, political stability, freedom of the press, hostility to foreigners and respect for human rights. This makes it a great place to live and travel.

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Iceland is beyond safe to travel to when it comes to crime .However you should pay attention to natural dangers. Signs like Do Not Drive Up The Glacier Without A 4×4 or Do Not Go Here – mean it. There is no cell service in many places so you may experience a bit of technology withdrawal but the beautiful scenery will easily fill up the time.

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Other safe countries include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Bhutan. So if you’re feeling nervous, you still have many great options to travel.

Fly safe,JAZ