When I was in Saint Petersburg, Russia this Fall, I did my due diligence as a tourist and visited as many museums, palaces, cathedrals, and attractions as I could manage in a week. Unfortunately, I was a few months too early to see the newly opened Book Chapel. The neo-Gothic library/museum/bookstore, situated just up the Pochtamatskya Ul. from the glorious Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, is a unique—an extraordinarily expensive—diversion for bibliophiles.
Admission to the privately owned “library” is by appointment only and comes with a hefty minimum charge of 7,000 Rubles for a four hour visit. That works out to nearly $30 per hour to access the facility. For that princely sum, book lovers, collectors, and researchers can visit thematic rooms that have titles such as “Books of Travel” and “Books of War”. The facility offers more than 5,000 volumes, manuscripts, and atlases from the 16th through 19th century, as well as pre-Revolution periodicals.
The Book Chapel was founded and is operated by the high-end publishing house Alfaret, which prints facsimile editions of collectible Russian books.