Library of Melk Abbey, in Melk, Austria

The library of the abbey of Melk, a famous Benedictine abbey overlooking the Danube founded in the 11th century, contains about 85,000 volumes, plus 1,200 manuscripts and incunabula (books printed before 1501). Its architecture is impressive, including the ceiling fresco by 18th-century Austrian Baroque painter Paul Troger depicting an allegory of the Faith. The wooden statues symbolize the four faculties: law, medicine, philosophy and theology.

Vatican Apostolic Library

Established in 1474 by Pope Sixtus IV, the Apostolic Library of the Holy See houses more than a million and a half books, 300,000 coins and 8,300 incunabula. Once considered the largest library in the world, it's not only known for its exceptional setting, but also for the painted decorations that adorn its large reading room. Known as the Sistine Hall, this area was opened to the public as a reading room in October 2017 after several years of work. Built by architect Domenico Fontana between 1588 and 1589, it is decorated floor to ceiling. The frescoes were executed by about 40 painters whom Sixtus V had gathered for the occasion.

Library of the Imperial Abbey of Salem, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Located in Baden-Württemberg, north of Lake Constance, the Imperial Abbey of Salem covers 17 hectares (42 acres) surrounded by vineyards, meadows, fields and forests. Built along the river Aach, this Cistercian abbey was founded in 1134. For more than 650 years, it was one of the most important abbeys of the Cistercian order in Germany. Built in Baroque style, its library has a superb vaulted ceiling. It holds about 60,000 works.

Library Sainte-Geneviève in Paris

The Place du Pantheon in Paris is home to this neo-classical building. Built in 1851 by the architect Henri Labrouste, the library was built on the site of the former college of Montaigu. This institution is the heir to the third largest library in Europe, that of the former abbey of Saint-Genevieve of Paris, founded by Clovis in the 6th century and dismantled in the Revolution. Today, the Sainte-Geneviève Library holds about 2 million documents covering all fields of knowledge: philosophy, psychology, religions, social sciences, pure and applied sciences, linguistics, art, literature, history and geography.

Library of Kremsmunster Abbey in Austria

At the heart of the monastery of the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmunster, founded in 777, this magnificent library was built between 1680 and 1689 by the Italian architect Carlo Antonio Carlone. It's one of the largest libraries in Austria, with about 160,000 volumes, as well as 1,700 manuscripts and nearly 2,000 incunabula. The most valuable book is the Codex Millenarius, a book containing the four Gospels written in Latin around the year 800.

Library of Waldsassen Abbey in Germany

Completed in 1727, the library of this sumptuous Cistercian Abbey of Waldsassen is a true jewel of Baroque art. Its stucco decorations made by Pietro Appiani are found next to remarkable woodwork and humorous figures, which one might not expect to find in a library of Cistercian monks!

Library of Wiblingen Monastery in Germany

This former Benedictine abbey today houses the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ulm. The interior of its library is particularly famous for its 18th-century architecture. Completed in 1744, it’s considered one of the most famous examples of Rococo architecture. The ceiling paintings by Franz Martin Kuen, the architecture, the sculptures, the fine columns of the galleries, the stuccoes and the penetration of light give an impression of perfect harmony.

Benedictine Library of Admont, Austria

Founded in 1074 in the heart of the Austrian Alps, this Benedictine abbey hosts the largest monastic library in the world. Built in the 18th century in a Rococo style, its spectacular dimensions (approx. 13 yards tall, 70 yards long and 14 yards wide) house a unique collection of rare books. There are no fewer than 200,000 books, including extraordinary manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and works of art dating from that time to the Renaissance.

Library of the Monastery of San Lorenzo Del Escorial in Madrid, Spain

The library of the Escorial Monastery is part of the magnificent site of the former residence of the King of Spain. Built at the end of the 16th century, it has more than 45,000 volumes. It’s famous especially for having the world's largest collection of Arabic and Hebrew manuscripts.

Library of Strahov Monastery in Czech Republic

With collections of more than 200,000 books, the Strahov Premonstratensian Monastery Library is located in the heart of Prague. The 800-year-old institution is one of the most valuable and best preserved libraries in Europe. It includes illuminated manuscripts, maps, terrestrial and celestial globes, and medieval engravings. The sumptuous Baroque and neo-classical ceilings are covered in frescoes by Siardo Nosecký and Franz Anton Maulbertsch.

Library of St. Florian Monastery in Austria

The library of this monastery is one of the oldest and most impressive in Austria. Baroque in style, its ceiling is sumptuously decorated with frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte (figures) and Antonio Tassi (architectural painting). These works symbolically depict the union of virtue and science under the protection of religion. The library has 150,000 volumes, most of which date back to before 1900.

Library of St. Gallen Abbey in Switzerland

Founded in the 7th century and rebuilt in the 18th century in Baroque style, the Library of St. Gallen Abbey is one of the oldest monastic libraries in the world. The Abbey of St. Gallen was for centuries one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in Europe. Its library is known to have been one of the richest in medieval times.