Hitting The Library While Traveling Spain

By: Peter Wilson

Many people say there is nothing like a good book. How about a good building full of books and a lot of history. That is what one of Spain's biggest attractions in Madrid has to offer. If you are traveling through Spain, you owe it to yourself to schedule a tour of the Biblioteca Nacional .

From the outside, the building is magnificent. It has a neoclassical façade and the archways are a site many spend a lot of time gazing upon. While it looks amazing from all angles, it really is breathtaking to walk straight forward towards the building and then look up, taking in the magnitude.

You may well run out a number of pictures on your camera with photos of the Corinthian column carvings, statues, and wrought iron gating. The doors are adorned with images of many of Spain's most famous writers. You will be able to pick out Leon and Cervantes. Once inside, you can marvel at the books in the library. There are more than 5 million of them. While it is not the world's biggest library, it is still impressive and is the largest collection of Spanish writings in the world.

The library's books started with the 1712 formation of Phillip V's royal library. Some of the books were acquired in the expected way, of being purchased or given to the library. Others, were taken in seizures. Now considered the National Library of Spain, the library has volumes that detail the complete history of the country and it's growth through the centuries, as well as nearly anything you could imagine relating to Spanish culture. For history buffs, the fact that over a half million of the books are pre 1831 is a major draw.

Those with an appreciation for art may want to take a tour of the engravings and drawings in the collection, or the maps that show the paths explorers would take traveling the world. The library's collection of these items are also unrivaled anywhere else in the world.

Even if you have no literary aspirations, you will still enjoy the inside of the library as much as you enjoyed the outside. The internal architecture is just as impressive. With the silence in the building, you can walk the halls and you may find your imagination taking you back in time through the centuries to get a feel for what it may have been like living in that far in the past. You can also think about the fact that the books and other works you can look at and study are those same pieces that have been looked at and studied by many royal figures in generations past.

In addition to being a location for research, the library also is often a location for exhibitions, showing off the drawings of artists such as Rembrandt.

The library is open all year long, and there is no charge for admission to the building.

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