National Library of Russia

St Petersburg

Russia's oldest and biggest public library was founded in 1795. It has some 31 million items, nearly a sixth of which are in foreign languages. Its main building on the north side of Ostovsky Sq is a handsome neo-classical construction.

Academic researchers only are allowed entry. Bring your passport, registration documents for the city and either copies of your higher-education certificates or proof of student status.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby St Petersburg attractions

1. Statue of Catherine the Great

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This enormous statue of Catherine the Great (1873) stands amid the chess, backgammon and mah-jong players who crowd the benches in Ostrovsky Sq. At the…

2. Karl Bulla Photography Studio

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Karl Bulla (1853–1929) was one of the city's most famous photographers and is immortalised in a life-sized statue on Malaya Sadovaya ul. Around the corner…

3. Nevsky Prospekt

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Nevsky Prospekt is Russia’s most famous street, running 4km from the Admiralty to Alexander Nevsky Monastery, from which it takes its name. The inner 2…

4. Ploshchad Ostrovskogo

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Created by Carlo Rossi in the 1820s and 1830s, this square is named for Alexander Ostrovsky (1823–86), a celebrated 19th-century playwright. An enormous…

5. Statue of Karl Bulla

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Karl Bulla (1853–1929) was one of the city's most famous photographers and is immortalised in this life-sized statue. Around the corner, his rooftop…

6. Armenian Church of St Catherine

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Continuing with a tradition of non-Orthodox churches being built on Nevsky pr, the Armenian merchant Ovanes Lazarian paid for the city’s first Armenian…

8. Anichkov Palace


Built between 1741 and 1751, with input from a slew of architects, including Rastrelli and Rossi, the Anichkov Palace is now officially known as the St…