The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a major library and cultural centre located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Alexandria, Egypt.
Opened in 2002, the modern library has shelf space for up to eight million books, with the main reading room spanning an impressive 20,000 square metres. Hovering over the room is a 32-metre-high glass paneled roof that tilts out towards the sea like a sundial, and offers lots of natural light for readers.
The library is an institution that serves the public, but it also acts as a modern-day commemoration of the Library of Alexandria of antiquity, which was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world, it is thought to have been destroyed around 270 AD.
The contemporary 11-storey library also has a conference centre, as well as specialised sections for books about arts and multimedia, books for the blind and visually impaired, rare books and special collections. Inside the building there are four museums, four art galleries for temporary exhibitions, 15 permanent exhibitions, a planetarium and a manuscript restoration laboratory.
The institution receives around 1.5 million visitors a year. For those keen on visiting, there are guided tours from a fixed schedule that take place and are offered in Arabic, English and French. There are also tours on Fridays and Saturdays, but prior reservation is required.
The library is a non-profit organisation and runs with support from charitable donations and volunteer support.