An Afternoon at Дом Kниги (House of Books)
14 January, 2015
If you are traveling to St.Petersburg the first place you will likely go is Не́вский проспе́кт (Nevsky Prospekt). The famous street is always filled with attractions, such as stores and monuments, that would take you many days to fully experience. I suggest that you take the time to relax and spend an afternoon at the historic Singer House.
Дом Kниги (Dom Knigi, or House of Books) is located on Nevsky Prospekt directly across from the Kazan Cathedral. It is impossible to miss due to how unique the building is in comparison to others. In 1902 Singer Sewing Machine Company purchased the building and hired Pavel Syuzor as the architect in order to build the company a skyscraper. However, there were laws in place during this time that would not allow any building to be built taller than 23.5 meters, the height of the Winter Palace. Syuzor decided to sneak past this rule in a very creative way. On the top of the building sits a massive, artfully constructed glass dome, with a glass globe on the very top. The architecture was very technologically advanced for that time, as the building is unlike anything else you will find on Nevsky Prospekt.
In 1919 the ownership of the building changed hands and it became the headquarters of Petrograd State Publishing House. The building became a bookstore and was soon known as Дом Kниги. Although the building had to close during the Siege of Leningrad, it has survived ever since and is still the most famous bookstore in St.Petersburg.
Дом Kниги has a very large selection of books, with many books in English, German, French, and other languages as well. In the back of the store on the main level there is a section to buy Russian gifts, such as amber goods, a variety of матрёшки (Russian nesting dolls), chocolates, and other trinkets. Once you have completed your shopping you can head upstairs to Кафе Зингеръ (Cafe Singer). Here you can relax, eat lunch, enjoy a pastry, drink an espresso, and simply enjoy the beautiful view, as the cafe looks out at the Kazan Cathedral. Приятного аппетита!