Opened in 1814, Russia's first public library is still known fondly as the "Publichka." It holds more than 20 million books and claims to have a copy of every book ever printed in Russia. Among the treasures are Voltaire's library and the only copy of Chasovnik (1565), the second book printed in Russia. The main section, on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and ulitsa Sadovaya, was designed by Yegor Sokolov and built between 1796 and 1801. Another wing, built between
1828 and 1832, was designed by Carlo Rossi as an integral part of Ploshchad Ostrovskovo. The facade is adorned with statues of philosophers and poets, including Homer and Virgil, and the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Using the library requires a passport, registration note (a note from a hotel, in the case of tourists), and two photos, which can be taken during the registration in the library. You may be able to get in for a quick look if you show your passport and ask nicely.