Visit the Austrian National Library (aka bookworm heaven)

Every bookworm has dreamed of entering a library like the one in Beauty and the Beast. Now you can! One More Step Travel has its first ever guest blogger in a series about historically and literary significant sites around the world. Lien is here to tell you all the reasons why you should visit the Austrian National Library in Vienna, one of the most beautiful historic libraries in the world. Just looking at the pictures makes you imagine you’ve stepped into Belle’s shoes as Beast shows her the library for the first time.

Beauty and the Beast_Belle's library

Read on for wheeled ladders, medieval manuscripts and books stacked up to the ceilings!

Austrian National Library

Vienna, Austria

Austrian National Library State Room - Venetian globe

Historical & Literary significance of the Austrian National Library

The Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in German), located in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, is known as one of the world’s most beautiful historic libraries. It was built by Johann Bernhard Fisher von Erlach, one of the two most popular architects of the Baroque days, who also built Schonbrunn Palace. The oldest book dates back to 1368. It is a medieval illuminated scripture, entitled ‘the Gospel book by Johannes von Troppau’. This implies the library contains over 600 years of history!

Austrian National Library in 1835

Austrian National Library in 1835

The institution itself dates back almost 450 years. After the Second World War it became an “important symbol of Second Republic Austria”. Several documents or collections of the Austrian National Library have been included in the UNESCO world register “Memory of the World” since 1997.

Visiting the Austrian National Library

A visit to the baroque State Hall is a must. It serves both as a library and museum and reminded me of the library in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. The view of the staircases on wheels next to the precious leather bound books stacked up to the ceiling made my heart beat faster. In one word: woooow!

Bookworm heaven - visit the Austrian National Library to find books stacked to the ceiling and wheeled ladders

Unfortunately, you are not allowed to browse through the books. However a few books are exposed in wooden show cabinets. Other highlights are the magnificent frescoes in the entrance hall and four wonderful Venetian globes (with a diameter of more than one metre!) of Vincenzo Coronelli. Plus the marble statues of Peter and Paul Strudel!

  • Cost? Tickets for the State Hall cost €7 per person.
  • Photography? You can take photoswithout flash.
  • Public transport? The library is within walking distance of the underground lines U1 (Stephansplatz), U2 (Museumquartier) and U3 (Herrengasse). Another option is to take either tram 1/2/71/ D or bus 1A/2A.
  • Accessibility? Elevator available.
  • Location? It’s central Vienna so there are many places to go next. The Papyrus Museum, Globe Museum and Esperanto Museum are also part of the Austrian National Library.
  • Weather-dependent? Nope, all indoors.

Written by Lien De Wispelaere
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Lien from the travel blog Get Lost Abroad is a Belgian travel addict and book lover who loves to explore places with lush nature everywhere on the planet. She hopes to inspire people to step out of their comfort zone and travel the world too.

I’ve only visited Austria once, but whenever I make it to Vienna in the future I’ll definitely be planning to visit the Austrian National Library! What is your favourite library in the world? Tell me in the comments!

If you liked this post, why not check out more historical or literary destinations around the world?

Visit the Austrian National Library

4 thoughts on “Visit the Austrian National Library (aka bookworm heaven)

  1. Ruth says:

    Oh no! I missed this place when I visited Hofburg last year. Didn’t know about it at all. I have to keep it in mind for my next visit to Vienna (because there is going to be a next time).


    • Laura Harris says:

      It’s always the way isn’t it, you discover a place that little bit too late? I try to think of it as an excuse to never stop travelling 😉


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