National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg

The Russian National Library (RNB) is one of the first public libraries in Eastern Europe and the oldest national library in Russia.

The library has several buildings located in different parts of St. Petersburg.

The history of the library dates back to the 18th century, when the idea of organizing a public library in Russia arose.

The project for the construction of the library, presented by the architect Egor Sokolov in 1795, was approved by the Empress Catherine II.

The place for the construction of the first building was not chosen by chance - the very center of the capital of the Russian Empire-the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Sadovaya Street.

The construction of the building in the style of the latest architecture of the time was started immediately and continued, together with the complete arrangement, for almost 20 years.

Initially, the library was called the Imperial Public Library. From 1917 to 1925, the library was called the Russian Public Library, from 1932-named after M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, until March 27, 1992-the State Public Library; today - the Russian National Library (unofficially - "Public").

During the history of the library grew, its collections were replenished, and both the main building itself was upset, and other buildings in St. Petersburg were gradually transferred to the library.

Today, the Russian National Library is one of the largest libraries in the world.

The library has the largest collection of books in Russian. The library's collections contain more than 38.6 million copies of printed works and other information resources, including on electronic media, available to a wide range of users.

Buildings of the Russian National Library

The Russian National Library consists of the familiar Main Building on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Sadovaya Street, as well as several branches in various parts of the city: the Plekhanov House on 4th Krasnoarmeyskaya Street, the building of the former Catherine Institute of Noble Maidens on the Fontanka River embankment, the building on Liteyny Prospekt and the New building on Moskovsky Prospekt.

In general, the buildings of the Library, created at different stages of Russian history, are the pride of the architecture of St. Petersburg.

The main building of the Russian National Library

The main historical building of the Library, which starts from the corner of Sadovaya Street and Nevsky Prospekt and ends at the corner of Ostrovsky Square and Krylov Lane, is a number of independent buildings that are connected into a single ensemble and were built separately for more than a hundred years:

- the corner building of the library, located at the intersection of Nevsky Prospekt and Sadovaya Street, is called - Sokolov building (in the plan diagram below-number 1).

It was the first special building in Russia designed to house a library;

- on the side of Ostrovsky Square, the Sokolovsky Building is adjacent to the Rossi building (No. 2 on the plan below). The building was built in 1832 by the architect Karl Ivanovich Rossi.

Rossi added the building to the Sokolov building in such a way that architecturally and visually the two buildings represent a common composition, which is characterized by columns, as well as gray and white colors.

The Rossi building is distinguished by a new and characteristic combination of architectural and sculptural decoration for the architecture of the 1820s-1830s, which gave the building a special expressiveness. The basis of the compositional solution of the facade is the colonnade of the Ionic order, raised, as in the Sokolov building, on a massive rusticated lower floor. The columns have capitals. Sculptures are placed between the columns, and a single attic completes the center of the facade.

View of the Rossi Building and Sokolov Building

- attached to the Rossi building are the Sobolshchikov building (3 on the plan) and the Vorotilov building (4 on the plan).

The Sobolshchikov building appeared from the end of 1857 as a reading room due to the need to expand the library. The construction took place according to the project of architect V.I. Sobolshchikov.

The Vorotilov building with a huge reading room was built in September 1896 according to the project of E. S. Vorotilov;

- The Main building of the Library on Sadovaya Street is adjacent to two houses that are now listed as the Library: house 18-administrative building (5 on the plan) and house 20 (6 on the plan), where the Information and Service Center is open.

The house at number 18 on Sadovaya Street was built as a private apartment house of the merchant Balabin, where the latter kept a tavern and a hotel. In 1918, the house was transferred to the library.

The house at number 20 on Sadovaya Street-Krylov's house, consisting of three buildings, was built at different times and has long been listed as a library.

Outline of the main building of the Russian National Library

1-Sokolov Building
2-Rossi building
3-Sobolshchikov Building
4-Vorotilov Building
5-administrative building
6-Krylov's house

The historical complex of buildings of the Imperial Public Library in the center of St. Petersburg is located: Ostrovsky Square 1-3 / Nevsky Prospekt 37 / Sadovaya Street 18-20.

Other buildings of the Russian National Library

In addition to the historic main building, the library also includes:

- a new building designed by the St. Petersburg architect V. N. Shcherbin and opened its doors in 1998, located at the address: Moskovsky Prospekt, house 165, building 2.

The complex of the New Building is the main focus of the development of the RNB, it houses the main resources (funds, search engines, service departments, reading rooms);

- Plekhanov's house on the 4th Krasnoarmeyskaya Street, 1/33.

The Plekhanov House is located in a historical and cultural ensemble that includes the building of the former Free Economic Society (1764-1915) and the Plekhanov House, formed in 1928;

- the building of the former Catherine's Institute of Noble Maidens on the embankment of the Fontanka River 36, transferred to the library in 1949;

- the building on Liteyny Avenue.

View of the Fontanka River and the building of the former Catherine Institute of Noble Maidens with Anichkov bridge

Practical information

Guided tours are available in the historic main building and branches of the library. Exhibitions and various events are also held.

We recommend that you check the opening hours of the library buildings and halls, as well as the time and conditions for visiting and(or) conducting excursions and other events on the official website.

Website of the Russian National Library:

The nearest metrostations are Gostiny Dvor and Nevsky Prospekt.

All accommodation facilities in St. Petersburg, including in the city center and more remote from it, can be viewed and booked here

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