10 Most Magical Libraries Straight out of Harry Potter – Vote

It’s hard to believe some of these places exist – Harry Potter fans rejoice! Vote for your favorite magical library that appears to have come from the Harry Potter movies, add your own, and come back to see which one wins the vote!

#1 Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland

The building that houses the so-called Old Library at Dublin’s Trinity College dates back to the 18th-century, but the library’s roots originated in 1592. Underneath the vaulted ceilings of the largest library in Ireland are multiple marble busts of famous authors and over six million

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#2 Strahov Monastery Library in Prague, Czech Republic

Founded by bishops and a duke after an 1138 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, this Prague monastery (and its library) is now one of the oldest of its kind on Earth. A collection of Europe’s most important titles was slowly amassed here, and now some 200,000 texts are housed in a soaring room decorated with frescoes and other accouterments (such as globes that reveal what the world was like in the 17th-century). In addition to the library and its impressive collection of books, the Strahov also has a Cabinet of Curiosities including, among other oddities, a narwhal horn, a dodo’s remains, and a comprehensive dendrology library devoted to the study of trees—which would undoubtedly be perfect for potion making. That’s not all, though: The library houses a secret sure to appeal to Harry Potter fans—fake books line bookshelves that mask secret doorways.

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#3 The Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Most people head to Rio de Janeiro for beach, sun, and caipirinhas, but at the top of any bookworm's vacation checklist should be the Royal Portuguese Reading Room (Real Gabinete Português de Leitura). Completed in 1887, this Gothic, dark wood-lined library with a stained-glass dome and massive wrought iron chandelier is pretty far from the beachy vibe for which Rio is known. Lined with three stories of books, the library now houses more Portuguese literary works than anywhere else outside of Portugal, including a number of rare tomes, maps, medallions, and statues. It currently holds over 350,000 titles, and its collection is constantly growing as it receives a copy of every new book published in Portugal.

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#4 Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada

Anyone who has ever held a Canadian ten-dollar bill has seen the iconic Library of Parliament. The 1876 Gothic revival building was originally built as part of the country’s Parliamentary headquarters, but a fire destroyed the surrounding buildings and, as if by magic, only the library and a handful of its books remained. The library’s circular main room was designed with the input of the first Parliamentary librarian, who suggested filling the room with reading nooks. The result is seen in the alcoves and galleries that help make the space so memorable. It's a stunning setting for reading, with bookshelves that soar from floor to ceiling, a window-filled cupola, an oculus that lets in light, and a marble statue of Queen Victoria towering over the study desks. To complete the bewitching vibe, the library’s paneling is intricately carved with flowers, masks, and mythical beasts.

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#5 Palafoxiana Library in Puebla, Mexico

The Palafoxiana, which dates back to 1646, is not only Mexico’s first public library, but it may also be the oldest library in all of the Americas. The library was started when a bishop, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, donated his collection (and name) to the new endeavor. Due to its religious roots, the main reading room has an impressive golden altar overseeing the research—and quite likely, to ensure no one steals. Listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the library is outfitted with two tiers of bookshelves that hold its collection of 41,000 books and manuscripts, including what may be the world’s oldest travel dictionary. While Mexican witches and wizards may not make it to Hogwarts very often, they are welcome to attend the American version, (the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, of course) and travel to the Palafoxiana via floo powder.

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#6 Codrington Library in Oxford, England

Oxford’s medieval reading room, the Bodleian Library, was used as the stand-in for the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter movies. But the university’s other wood-paneled library—the Codrington—is equally captivating. Situated at All Souls College, the library’s main room is a true shrine to bibliophilia. Built in 1751, the library's most distinctive features include spiral staircases, cloistered reading rooms, and a vaulted ceiling that lets in enough light to fight off the infamously gray British weather. The 185,000 volumes have educated and entertained generations of scholars interested in 11th-century manuscripts, 17th-century architecture, and (probably) ancient magic.

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#7 The Morgan Library in New York City, New York

New York financier Pierpont Morgan built this library to house his vast collection of rare books, including copies of the works of his cohorts, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain—who personally gave his work to Morgan. The collection also includes some exceedingly rare illuminated manuscripts, including a Mainz Psalter that dates back to 1459. Morgan also collected drawings, prints, and artifacts gathered from around the world. To house the collection, he commissioned an Italian-inspired library near his home on the corner of 36th Street and Madison Avenue in New York City. After Morgan’s death in 1924, his son, J.P. Morgan, Jr., opened the doors of the museum and library to the public. A marble rotunda, a reading room with towering shelves of books, stained glass, and balconies give the library a grand and almost palatial manner. The library was expanded by architect Renzo Piano in 2006, adding to the library’s statliness.

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#8 Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, France

France began building the collection housed in its national library back in the Middle Ages, long before even the invention of movable type. After the French Revolution, the Royal Library became part of the national collection, along with materials confiscated from the Roman Catholic Church and the aristocracy—including the private collections of Louis the 16th and Marie-Antoinette. The library’s Richelieu Branch was designed by renowned architect Henri Labrouste, who had previously designed the spectacular Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève. His work on the site was completed in 1868 with a reading room capped by terra cotta domes and skylights. Like wizards, readers could conjure books from thin air, thanks to a groundbreaking series of pneumatic tubes.

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#9 Melk Monastery Library, Melk, Austria

The Melk Abbey was founded in 1089, and shortly thereafter a school was founded which led to the library’s formation in the 12th century. The Melk Library quickly became one of the largest manuscript holders in the world, and was also majorly involved in the production of manuscripts. The Library features a high ceiling adorned with beautiful frescos painted by Paul Troger. Today the Library is still renowned for its collection of medieval manuscripts and also has a prominent collection of musical manuscripts.

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#10 Abbey Library of Saint Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is the oldest library in Switzerland and holds about 160,000 volumes. The library was founded by Saint Othmar, who founded the Abbey of St. Gall in 719. This is one of the oldest monastery libraries in the world, and holds manuscripts from as far back as the 8th century. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization named the library a World Heritage site in 1983, calling it a “a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery”. Many of the rare manuscripts that the library holds can be accessed through this website, and the public is welcome to use the library, although pre-1900 books must be read on site.

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