Most Significant Libraries Of The Ancient World

The Library Of Alexandria, Egypt

The Library of Alexandria is the most well-known in the ancient world. The city of Alexandria still exists today in Egypt, even though the library is long gone. Constructed in 295 BCE, the vast library included lecture halls, observatories, living quarters, and a zoo, in addition to the thousands of scrolls.

The Library Of Pergamum, Turkey

The Library of Pergamum may not be as well-known today, but it was once the rival library of the Great Library of Alexandria. Constructed in the third century BCE, it amassed some 200,000 scrolls, but the exact date of its destruction is unknown. The great city of Pergamum is now the modern city of Bergama, Turkey. 

The Imperial Library Of Constantinople, Turkey

The ancient city of Constantinople is now known as Istanbul in Turkey, but it was once the largest city in the Roman Empire. The Imperial Library of Constantinople, built sometime in the fourth century CE, was severely damaged in 1204 during the sack of Constantinople after several fires.

The Library Of Ashurbanipal, Iraq

The Library of Ashurbanipal, built in the 7th century BCE, is the oldest library of the ancient world. Located in Ninevah, Assyria, which is now present-day Iraq, this library had a significant impact on the development of language.

Nalanda Mahavihara, India

Operating for almost 800 years, Nalanda Mahavihara is the oldest library and university in India. Constructed in the 3rd century BCE, and coming to its end in the 13th century CE, its historic remains are still in the northern state of Bihar.

The Library Of Celsus, Turkey

Built in 110 CE in Ephesus, and remarkably still standing today, the Celsus Library is a masterpiece and a tomb for Celsus himself. Although it’s one of the smaller libraries on this list, holding just over 12,000 scrolls, the collection holds some of the best works, made as a memorial to Celsus’s father.

The Libraries Of Trajan’s Forum, Italy

Home to approximately 20,000 scrolls, Trajan’s Forum was more than just a library. The large complex in Rome that flourished for over 300 years, also included markets and religious temples.

The House Of Wisdom, Iraq

Established in the 9th century, The House of Wisdom was an epicenter of learning. The library contained manuscripts in Indian, Persian, and Greek on a variety of subjects. Like many on this list, it met a gruesome end, but not by flame. In 1258, the Mongols sacked Baghdad and threw the collection of books into the Tigris River.

University Of Taxila, Pakistan

The University of Taxila, located in modern-day Pakistan, is one of the first recorded universities. Established between the 2nd and 5th centuries, it was a reputable and influential institution in its time. Bhir Mound is now a protected archeological site.