The Magic of the Old Continent

Experience Europe's soul, traversing libraries from France to Russia's grand halls.
Vincent Phan

Old World Charm, Page by Page.

Europe, the cradle of western civilization, with its rich tapestry of history, culture, and astounding architectural prowess, holds within its bosom treasures of inestimable value - its libraries. European libraries, whether ancient or modern, are repositories of human knowledge and creativity, each echoing a different era, a distinct voice. They stand as a testament to the value societies have placed on literature and learning through centuries. This intricate blend of history, art, culture, and literature in each library makes them unique, imbuing them with an aura that inspires awe and stirs the imagination.

You're now embarking on an incredible literary journey with us, starting in the heart of France.

Amidst the city of lights, Paris, lies the oldest public library in France, the Mazarine Library.

Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)
Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

Nestled within a 17th-century palace, its grandeur is a testament to the power of knowledge and the enduring allure of the written word. Every antique tome here whispers stories from the past, evoking J.K. Rowling's sentiment: "When in doubt, go to the library." It is a place of wonder where the literary-inclined goes to find inspiration and completely absorb the magical atmosphere where once upon a time, this place was the first library to open to the public in France, giving millions of curious minds access to the knowledge of the world.

Next, we cross the English Channel to the University of Oxford's most historic library: the magnificent Bodleian Library.

Oxford is home to 26 libraries holding a combined total of over 13 million books. All that stands behind the doors of these illustrious institutions has taken on an almost mythical quality, not least because many rooms have served as filming locations for everything from Harry Potter to A Discovery of Witches.

This living piece of history, dating back to the Middle Ages, invites you into its vast, hallowed halls. The intricate architectural details and millions of volumes inspire awe, as if echoing Jorge Luis Borges' words: "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."

Image credit: John Cairns

Image credit: John Cairns

The Bodleian is one of Europe’s oldest libraries and it is known not only for its collections, but for its spectacular interiors. If you fancy stepping back in time, there’s no better place to explore.

Image Credit: John Cairns

Image Credit: John Cairns

Our literary voyage takes us west next, to the island known for its emerald landscapes and rich literary tradition, Ireland.

In its bustling capital, Dublin, lies the hallowed Trinity College Library. Founded in the 16th century, it stands today as Ireland's largest library and the permanent home to the treasured Book of Kells, a stunningly illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800.

With its historic Long Room housing two hundred thousand of the library's oldest books, mesmerizes every book lover. It stands as a monument to the Irish spirit of perseverance, learning, and the timeless love of literature.

Image Credit: Trinity College Dublin

Image Credit: Trinity College Dublin

The moment you step into the library's historic Long Room, The moment you step into the library's historic Long Room, you are enveloped in the scent of old parchment and the tangible weight of centuries of scholarly pursuit. With its oak-paneled walls, marble busts of philosophers and writers, and the towering shelves housing about two hundred thousand of the library's oldest books, the Long Room exudes an almost sacred aura.

Beyond the whispering books, this library stands as a monument to the Irish spirit of resilience, learning, and the timeless love for literature. It’s a testament to the words of President John F. Kennedy, an honorary fellow of Trinity College, who once said,

Libraries should be open to all—except the censor.

It reminds us that libraries are not just a storehouse of books but a beacon of freedom, learning, and cultural growth.

Trinity College Library isn’t just a library, it’s a gateway, beckoning each visitor to step through time, explore vast landscapes of knowledge, and emerge enlightened. It's a place that ignites curiosity, inspires awe, and fosters a deep, abiding love for the written word.

If these have inspired you, we'd love to take you to 40 remarkable other ones all over Europe. Sign up to our email-list below to find out more about our first edition release.