Disney films were a large part of my childhood, and one of my all-time favourite moments was in Beauty and the Beast where Beast shows Belle his spectacular library. As a life-long book lover, I always dreamed of seeing a library like that myself one day. In the State Hall of Austria’s National Library, I got my wish.
Austria’s capital city Vienna is full to bursting with palaces, museums and galleries, none of which I find particularly enticing on holiday. But I decided to make an exception for Austria’s National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek), which at 7 euros for an adult ticket is half the price of even the cheapest ticket for Schönbrunn Palace.
Based in Hofburg Palace, the library is probably just as impressive as any room in Schönbrunn – but with a welcome focus on books rather than royalty.
The books alone look beautiful, their gilded spines gleaming in the spotlights. Wooden step-ladders cast intriguing shadows, and golden accents shine. Between the tall, double-stacked bookcases stand polished marble columns, expertly crafted ivory statues and intricately painted globes. Even the patterned floors are impressive, particularly illuminated by light rays from the long windows.
But for the best view, you need to look up at the spectacular painted ceiling.
Once you’re done admiring the room itself, the State Hall also has information boards about Duchess Elizabeth Sisi, who was Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary between 1854 and 1898. It’s a nice bonus that makes visiting the library even more worthwhile.
Have you visited any particularly beautiful libraries that rival this one? Let me know in the comments!
All text and photos (c) Juliet Langton, 2017. All rights reserved.