Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library is the most famous library in Budapest. It already made it onto my list of most magical places in Budapest but I thought it deserved a post of its own. And not only because I took an inordinate amount of photos while there! During my stay in Budapest, I found it to be one of the most enchanting places in the city.

metropolitan ervin szabo library reading room in budapest

The historical building that houses it looks charming even on the outside. I must admit that finding the entrance wasn’t the easiest task. This is the largest network library in Budapest so upon walking in, it’ll look like your average modern library. But if you’re interested in the most fascinating part of it, head to the fourth floor. From there, follow the sign to the beautiful neo-Baroque palace.

The historical Wenckheim Palace dates back to the 19th century. Each room differs from one another, ranging from a ballroom to rooms encased in oak wood. The Wenckheim family used to own this palace and they were renowned for their sumptuous balls. While there, I could easily imagine those bygone days of resplendent evenings filled with dancing.

metropolitan ervin szabo library at wenckheim palace

The library got its name from Ervin Szabo, a sociologist who founded the library network modeling it after the British public library system. Initially stored inside a temporary schoolhouse, the library moved into the palace once the city bought it. Today it houses over 1,1 million volumes. Furthermore, the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library is not the only dazzling library in Budapest. There are a handful of historical libraries in this gorgeous city which makes it even dearer to me.

As hard as it is to choose, my favorite room was the very last one I walked into. The wood-carved reading room, formerly the smoking room, has a wooden and gilded interior. Oak-paneled walls, ornate chandeliers, wood-coffered ceilings, and spiral staircases. I couldn’t get enough of it. It looked like a luxurious lounge room at Hogwarts! By and large, the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library is one of the dreamiest places I ever saw.

reading room at metropolitan ervin szabo library in budapest

Visiting the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library

Obviously, if you’re planning on studying at the library, there is no entrance fee because you will have a reader card. If you want to visit this magical place and walk through its rooms, you have to pay a small fee. It’s only 1500 HUF which amounts to about € 3,84. Honestly, it’s a steal because this library is as intriguing as your average museum! It goes without saying that during your visit, you should respect the fact that this is a library where people are studying.

It’s not surprising to hear that a handful of movies used the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library as a filming location. Some of them include The Phantom of the Opera, Spy, The Alienist, and Red Sparrow. The doors with wood carvings, antique candelabras, gilded wallpapers, and imposing ballroom doors instantly recall movie sets.

gilded staircase at budapest metropolitan ervin szabo library

I visited the second it opened yet the library was already filled with people studying. Probably because it was June, the middle of exam season. To tell the truth, I wonder if I could concentrate on studying here. I have a feeling that such opulent decor would distract me to no end. I would either marvel at it or drift off into vivid daydreams.

A true hidden gem in Budapest, this library inside a palace is breathtaking. Entering these rooms feels like stepping into a different world. It’s an unforgettable and magnificent library, every bookworm’s dream. If you find yourself in Budapest, the Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library is a place you simply have to visit!

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