For thousands of years, mankind has built luxury palaces to collect and protect the most precious and meaningful property. These libraries have been the best places to preserve history and enlightenment for centuries. We have always had a fascination for these knowledge-filled halls. Massimo Listri, an Italian photographer who spent 10 years visiting libraries around the world, used his lens to record some of the most beautiful knowledge in the world. The top ten of the world’s most beautiful libraries are definitely mindblowing!

1. Metten Abbey Library, Germany

Metten Abbey is a house of the Benedictine Order in Metten near Deggendorf, situated between the fringes of the Bavarian Forest and the valley of the Danube, in Bavaria, Germany. Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch founded the abbey in 766.

2. Mafra Library, Portugal

The Palace of Mafra is a monumental Baroque and Italianized Neoclassical palace-monastery located in Mafra, Portugal, some 28 kilometres from Lisbon. Construction began in 1717 and was completely concluded in 1755. The palace was classified as a National Monument in 1910, and was also one of the finalists of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The palace, which also served as a Franciscan monastery, was built during the reign of King John V (1707–1750), as consequence of a vow the king made in 1711, to build a convent if his wife, Queen Mariana, gave him offspring. The birth of his first daughter prompted construction of the palace to begin.

3. Wiblingen Abbey Library, Germany

Wiblingen Abbey was a former Benedictine abbey, which was later used as barracks. Today its buildings house several departments of the medical faculty of the University of Ulm. The former abbey is located south of the confluence of the rivers Danube and Iller, south of the city of Ulm in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

4. Admont Abbey Library, Austria

Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located on the Enns River in the town of Admont, Austria. The oldest remaining monastery in Styria, Admont Abbey contains the largest monastic library in the world as well as a long-established scientific collection. It is known for its Baroque architecture, art, and manuscripts. The abbey's location on the borders of the mountainous Gesäuse National Park is of unusual scenic beauty.

5. St. Gallen Library, Switzerland

The library collection is the oldest in Switzerland, and is one of earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world. Above the entrance door, you can see inscribed in Greek psyché iatreion, which translates "apothecary of the soul". The library holds 2,100 manuscripts dating back to the 8th through the 15th centuries, 1,650 incunabula (printed before 1500), and old printed books. These manuscripts are placed inside the glass cases. Irish, Carolingian, and Ottonian are among the best of these manuscripts.

The library holds almost 160,000 volumes, and most are available for public use. There are clues at the top of the bookshelves where you can see cherubs giving clues for whatever topic interests you. For example, the astronomy related books could be seen below the cherub who uses a telescope to observe the astronomy related books. Books published before 1900 are to be read in a special reading room.

6. Strahov Library, Czech Republic

Strahov Library is the largest monastic library in the country, with two magnificent baroque halls dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. You can peek through the doors but, sadly, you can’t go into the halls themselves – it was found that fluctuations in humidity caused by visitors’ breath was endangering the frescoes. There's also a display of historical curiosities.

7. Abbazia Kremsmunster Library, Austria

This monastic library was famous and drew eminent scholars to Kremsmünster, where several important historical works were written, including histories of the bishops of Passau and of the dukes of Bavaria, and the chronicles of the abbey itself.

8. Palafoxiana Library, Mexico

The origins of Palafoxiana Library date to 1646 when a personal collection of approximately 5,000 volumes was contributed to the Colegio de San Juan y San Pedro by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. In 1773, Bishop Don Francisco Fabián y Fuero ordered the construction of the Palafoxiana Library in the historic center of the city of Puebla to house Bishop Juan’s donation.

The walls of the 43-meter-long library were fitted with two tiers of bookshelves made of ayacahuite pine, cedar, and coloyote wood. The western wall displays the mid-14th century retable of the Madonna of Trapana, painted by Nino Pisano. Throughout the colonial period, large quantities of prints and manuscripts were donated by other bishops, different religious institutions, and private individuals, and the library grew to rival the finest libraries of 18th-century Europe. The library’s collection grew to over 41,000 volumes in the 19th century, requiring a third tier of bookshelves. The baroque cloistered building still has many architectural and decorative elements, including the original 18th century wooden bookcases.

9. Apostolica Library, Vatican

The Vatican Apostolic Library (Latin: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana), more commonly called the Vatican Library or simply the Vat, is the library of the Holy See, located in Vatican City. Formally established in 1475, although it is much older, it is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. It has 75,000 codices from throughout history, as well as 1.1 million printed books, which include some 8,500 incunabula. The Vatican Library is a research library for history, law, philosophy, science and theology, and is open to anyone who can document their qualifications and research needs. Photocopies for pages from books published between 1801 and 1990 can be requested in person or by mail for private study.

10. San Francisco Library, Peru

The library in Lima’s San Francisco Monastery is one of the oldest and most beautiful on the continent. The stunning convent was completed in 1672, with renovations and improvements continuing up until 1729. Given how old the library inside is, it should come as no surprise that the 25,000 volumes contained therein are extremely rare, chronicling a massive variety of knowledge dating between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.