Buenos Aires has an assortment of libraries ideal for escaping the heat with a good book. Some are great to relax in, while others are better from which to borrow. Here is Culture Trip’s guide to the five most beautiful libraries in Buenos Aires.
Debuting in 1870, this treasure of a library was turned over to the people in 1884 and features a luxurious façade that is matched by its glitzy interior, which is neat, roomy, and bright. Beiges, greens, and pinks surround mahogany under the high ceilings, with majestic bookshelves impressing a need for education by virtue of their height. With its addition of the Sala Americana – opened in 1998 – the Biblioteca Nacional gained a gorgeous reading room that is accessible by a winding staircase in the main hall. Less crowded than the rest of the library, Sala Americana‘s draped windows and antique lighting impart a feeling of grandeur.
In front of the Plaza San Martin and tucked inside the Circulo Militar, this library calls to mind Buenos Aires’ omnipresent military. Designed to shout aristocracy, the building feels too elaborate to be functional and should not be missed — even if you’re not a martial fan. Leather-bound desks, mirrored walls and a marble hearth combine to create a sense of royalty in the reading room, and even the door is plated in gold. Containing over 60,000 works, topics include war strategy, martial history and international military magazines from America, Brazil, and France. The library is accessible to the public yet accommodates only 15 people at a time, however, so plan your visit accordingly.
The earliest and most comprehensive in the nation, this is not just Argentina’s largest collection of information, but it is the most influential in Latin America. Established by Mariano Morenomore than 200 years ago in Microcentro, the library was moved to Montserrat before finding its current home in Recoleta. The property, first owned by Unzue Place, was taken by the state in 1937 and made the official home of Juan Peron and his spouse, Eva ‘Evita’ Peron. She died in the extension that faces the ocean. When Peron was exiled, the palace was torn down and the current library was eventually built on the land.
This vast library is located adjacent to Congress and has provided information to congressional members and the public for over 150 years. Once you’re past security, visitors enter a high-ceilinged foyer containing original marble and bronze torsos of Rivadavia and San Martin. Despite a vast collection of over three million pieces, the library’s layout is easy to understand. Everything is contained within one large foyer and subdivided into sections for multimedia, reading, reference, and microfilm which project newspapers from as early as 1810.
The bones of this library building are nothing to get excited about, but the invaluable assets inside justify its inclusion on this list: it is the former workplace of infamous Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Over the main reading room is a small room continuously occupied by the writer throughout his career, home to his original desk and other bibliographic artefacts which are still on display. The famous Spanish writer Juan Cruz Ruiz describes the room as a ‘mark of homage’ to Borges and is something which should never disappear.