Founded in 1862, the library was originally housed in Moscow’s Pashkov House—the 18th-century palace that still forms its core—before it was expanded during Soviet times with the addition of neighboring buildings. Today, its hallowed corridors and halls lead to 36 reading rooms of polished cabinets, parquet floors, and green desk lamps. Visitors can explore independently via a day-long guest pass or in-house tour.
The library is a regular stop on Moscow sightseeing tours. Typical itineraries combine an exterior library stop with must-sees like St. Basil’s Cathedral; while other tours, such as multi-day experiences, include an interior visit as part of a round-up of the city’s less-visited sights. History enthusiasts might want to take in the library’s 20th-century buildings on tours that focus on the city’s communist period.