Lovers of literature won’t be disappointed by the ‘Bibliotheks’ of Vienna. Its libraries reflect a city that is fond and proud of its cultural heritage, with many holding impressive compilations of historical works. Admire the largest collection of books in Austria in the aisles of the University Library or settle down with a book and look out to the hills from the Hauptbücherei am Gürtel.
Austrian National Library Vienna
This incredible space is the largest library in the whole of Austria. Inside Hofburg Palace, it boasts a treasure trove of artifacts and ancient books. The definition of grand; it was the Imperial Library in the Middle Ages and renamed to the Austrian National Library in approximately 1920. The Globe Museum, part of the library, is also worth a look in. It’s an impressive and unique exhibition containing globes of the earth, the moon, Mars and a collection of astronomical instruments.
From the top floor of this library, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Vienna Woods and beyond. The steps leading up to the café perched on top also provide a good view of the winding tram tracks leading up to Westbahnhof Central Station, and inside is a tranquil yet vast space – juxtaposing with the traffic of the city rushing past outside. It houses an impressive range of literature, as well as CDs, DVDs, and various other resources.
With a focus on researching and preserving the history and culture of Vienna and archiving important documents related to the city, this library has a distinct Viennese character. The collection is extensive and wide-reaching, covering a huge proportion of history, with some of the printed works dating all the way back to the 15th century. Among the collected works are autographs, handwritten music compositions, posters, and obituaries. Located on the first floor of Vienna’s city hall, it is a beautiful land mine of cultural and historical works.
Hidden away at the end of a long corridor inside the Akademie of fine Arts, this library could be one of the most atmospheric rooms in Vienna. Creaky wooden floors and the smell of well-thumbed books make this an easy setting to settle down to some work. The bookshelves are so perfect in appearance, it is tempting to pick one of the finely preserved volumes to inspect if it is real. Sections of the library are open to members of the public, who can enjoy the serenity and stillness of this finely preserved space.
The University of Vienna was founded by Duke Rudolf IV in 1365 and is seen as one of the most important educational institutions in the German-speaking world. The main library at the university is, of course, always full of students, but members of the public may visit also. Vienna’s University Bibliothek has the largest collection of books in the whole of Austria – around seven million and growing. The main reading room is an elegant sight; with long polished tables and a glass roof.