Elzevier Volumes and Aldine Editions in the Rare Books Department

Please note: the Rare Books Exhibition Hall is temporary closed to visitors for technical reasons. Tours aren't running.

Rare Books Department
Rare Books Department
During the tour, a guide will show you volumes printed by the leading seventeenth-century European firm run by the Elsevier family. Visitors can see the most valuable books issued by these famous Dutch publishers and booksellers. Among the most notable items are the historical cookbook French Pastry Cook, printed in Holland in 1655, the Res Publica /Republic/ series with geographical and historical descriptions of different countries, the 1669 celebrated Bible and the 17th century theses on Medicine, Jurisprudence and Theology by scholars of the Leiden University.

We will also talk about the Venetian publishing house founded in 1494 by the great humanist Aldus Manutius. Aldine Press played an outstanding role not only in the history of typographic art, but also in the history of ancient philology. Since its establishment to 1598, the firm had printed about 1000 editions of Greek, Latin and contemporary classics. Most of Aldine editions show the famous colophon of the anchor and dolphin in different versions.

More than 900 volumes make up the library's Aldus Manutius collection. These fine books are impressive for their high standard of technical execution, artistry and scholarliness. Many are stored in original leather bindings. Some have later morocco covers, often made by the 19th century famous European bookbinders. You will really admire the celebrated romance Poliphilo's Strife of Love in a Dream, published in 1499 by an Italian Dominican priest and monk Francesco Colonna. This edition  has an elegant page layout, with 174 fine woodcut illustrations demonstrating the Renaissance style and ideas.

Visitors will also be given an opportunity to view the world's largest collection of books in the simplified civil orthography from the time of Peter the Great. Among the Rare Department's treasures are Burckhard von Piirkenstein's Geometry (1708), the 1708 book of rules for ladies on how to start writing and express your feelings, the General Geography by the Dutch cartographer Bernhard Varenius (1718), as well as the first Russian newspaper Vedomosti (1703) and other rarities.


The tours are arranged on 2nd Wednesday of every month from 11:00 to 16:00, except state holidays.

The tours are available for groups of up to 15 people per guide.

The tours will take about an hour and start from the Main Reader Entrance, located at 1-3, Ostrovsky Square.

Please note! Admission to Rare Books Department is only by a library card. If you are not our reader, you can join the Library.

Coats and bags (including backpacks) should be left in the cloakroom.

Advance booking is recommended. To book a tour you should write us date, time and number of people.

You can order the guided tour of the Elzevier Volumes and Aldine editions in the Rare Books Department by e-mail - rarebook@nlr.ru:


  • group tour (6-15 people) - 2500 rubles per person (we waive the fee for interpreters accompanying a group);
  • individual tour (up to 5 people) - 11000 rubles.
  • Contact us: +7(812) 310-83-36, +7(812) 718-85-20, rarebook@nlr.ru, Gennady Fafurin
  • Date and time: 2nd Wednesday of every month from 11:00 to 16:00
  • Tours are conducted in Russian.  For other language-speaking groups, we work through an  interpreter
  • Duration: 45–60 min
  • Age requirement: 12+
  • Address: 1-3, Ostrovsky Square, Saint Petersburg
  • Entrance: Main Reader Entrance
  • Admission: by a library card



Location Maps

Reader Registration

Floor Plans

Using the Reading Rooms

Food, Drink

Cloakrooms, Storage, Wi-Fi


Book Shop

The Library is open
Monday—Friday from 9:00 to 21:00;
Saturday, Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00.

The Library is closed on public holidays and last Tuesday of each month.
On pre-holidays, the Library is open from 9:00 to 16:00.