How to Make It to the Russian State Library and Why

Remember this scene from Malèna movie where Monica Bellucci lights her cigarette with joint efforts of her admirers? Well, Giuseppe Tornatore directed the movie in the year 2000, whereas Russian version of this Malèna scene was shot 20 years earlier, in 1980, in the Oscar-awarded movie Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears. So, in order not to cry over the missed opportunity, grab your passport with a Russian visa, and welcome to the Soviet #1 going out destination where this scene took place — Russian State Library.


How to Make It to the Russian State Library and Why

Smoking scene with Monica Bellucci from Malèna

How to Make It to the Russian State Library and Why

Library scene from Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears



The fourth largest library in the world, Russian State Library also has a monument to Fyodor Dostoevskiy in front of the gate (author of Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot; if you are more accustomed to cinematographic media, almost every Woody Allen’s movie scenario has a link to Dostoevsky’s vision). Locals made jokes about the statue of Dostoevsky being quite uncomfortably seated, but don’t stick there evaluating the position for too long. You have a veritable reason to enter the library.




  • Don’t try to enter through the front door right away. You have to obtain a library card first — “a reader’s ticket” in a word-to-word translation from Russian. So, use the door on the right of the main entrance.
  • When entered, don’t be confused if the staff doesn’t speak English, — this might happen but won’t create any insurmountable obstacles. The reading rooms are available for foreign residents above 18 yo. You will get the library card as necessary.
  • To obtain the library card, first pick up an index card from the table in the lobby and fill in all the corresponding information: your name, citizenship, passport number, job etc. The data is gathered for safety reasons and statistical purposes only. You will find no delicate questions.
  • After you fill in all the required info, show the card to the lady in the lobby and she will assign to you a printed number. You’ll quickly see the number pop up in red on the screen on the top of the cabins.
  • Enter the corresponding cabin. Give your index card to a staff member. You will pay 100 RUB (~$1.5) to get your picture taken right there in the cabin. You will then receive your crisp library card immediately.
  • Now exit the building, turn right, and enter through the front door by scanning your brand-new “reader’s ticket”. Now the journey begins!


How to Make It to the Russian State Library and Why


Ok, maybe not right now. First, leave your outer clothes and books in the cloakroom if you have any with you. And now let’s go!



How to Make It to the Russian State Library and Why

Russian State Library Staircase by Biganto Photo


An amazing marble staircase, marble columns (six types of marble used in the decor), and wooden interior conserved from the 30s, signature green desk lamps. Find a reading room #3, although the rooms #1 and #2 are also worth your attention too. In this very reading room, Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears was filmed. Unfortunately for the recreation of that exact scene, no smoking in the library or in any other public places in Moscow is permitted nowadays. However, you have definitely touched a part of the Soviet heritage genuinely loved by the locals.


Walk around, sit down, feel like a Moscow student. Or even pretend to be one by opening your laptop and checking the mail with a straight face. Another highly recommended option is to come back to our website and decide where to go from now. In case you are up to do some more reading but outdoors, go to our separate article.

Free WiFi

  • Hours: Mon — Fri 9 am – 8 pm, Sat 9 am – 7 pm, Sun and last Mon of the month closed (Registration stops an hour ahead)
  • Address: Vozdvizhenka St., 3/5
  • Price: 100 RUB (~$1.5)

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