Bibliotourism: The National Library Of Russia

At #Amreading we know that a love of books can take you anywhere. That’s why today we are taking a look at one of the most stunning libraries in the world. The National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg is one place we would love to check out!

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Established in 1795 by Catherine the Great, it is one of the most culturally significant buildings in Europe. It is home to a collection like no other. Thousand year old books live here, such as the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete copy of the Hebrew Bible in the world.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

They have the most extensive collection of Russian Books from the 18th to 21st centuries, though also have books and manuscripts that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The gifts of music given to the Emperors of Russia are on display so you can see original Weber and Mendelssohn compositions. Fun fact: the entire library of Voltaire is here, along with 20 million other books.

The Neoclassical building itself is an architectural splendour. To peruse this library, you have to go through narrow alleyways of book shelves, a decrepit staircase, wood-panelled rooms, gilded interiors, and massive reading rooms lit with chandeliers. The library feels like it’s own metropolis of books. The vast multitude of books is overwhelming. Knowledge and secrets are within your grasp, but it’s impossible to learn all the library knows.

Inside the library you will find the librarians, mostly female, working away. Library assistants and babushkas leaf through leather-bound tomes. Everything about this library will make you forget about your smart phone. The librarians heels click through the dusty maze of piles of books and echo through the silent reading rooms. It’s easy to get sucked back in time here. 

Some of the greatest stories and most resonate characters come from Russian literature: Goethe, Pushkin Gogol, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, the list is endless!

This library, one of the world’s most eminent, has been helping to shape and establish the Russian identity for centuries. Today, it houses an astounding 34.5 million items. It’s a vanguard of historical heritage and culture. In a world where ereaders and cloud based data storage is king, this library is a powerful reminder of the power and beauty of books.

Happy Travels!

YouTube Channel: Russia Insider


Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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