Located on the spacious Paseo de Recoletos, the majestic National Library of Spain (Biblioteca Nacional de España) is hard to miss. It's the largest library in the Spanish-speaking world and is responsible for identifying, preserving, conserving and promoting information about Spain's cultural heritage. The library is easily one of Madrid's most magnificent 19th-century buildings, a sprawling edifice built in the neoclassical style packed with everything that's been published in Spanish territory since the early 18th century.
The library was founded in 1712 by Felipe V as the Public Library of the Palace, who required all printers to submit a copy of every published book to the library. The library was named National Library of Spain in 1836. While the library existed, it wasn't located in its current home until the 19th century; Queen Isabel II commissioned its construction in 1865 and it was finished in 1892. Today the library's collection consists of over 26 million items, ranging from books and magazines to sheet music, photographs, drawings and maps.
The library doubles as a museum covering the trajectory of Spain's written culture and history. Video commentaries have been added to exhibits and some of the library's collections have been specially arranged into displays recounting the history of writing and the storage of knowledge. See illuminated manuscripts, centuries-old books of the Torah, Arabic texts along with artwork by Spain's top masters, and an impressive collection of 17th-century copies of Cervantes' Don Quijote.