The legend is widely known that the Russian tsars had a huge library, which for many years consisted of books acquired in different countries of the world and received as a gift from foreign ambassadors.
There is information that in 1472 Ivan III, having married the niece of the Byzantine emperor Sophia Palaeologus, received a part of the Constantinople library as a dowry.
The first information about the mysterious library of Russian tsars is contained in the "Legend of Maxim the Philosophe". It says that Tsar Vasily III had "countless Greek books" in the underground storage.
The Lebanese Niestedt reported in his chronicle that a certain pastor John Wetterman was invited to Russia in 1556 as a translator of ancient books that were kept in the dungeon. The pastor was delighted with the royal library and even declared that he would gladly give all his fortune for it.
Many researchers are confident that the library could have survived to this day, since well-made parchment could not deteriorate for several centuries. But nobody knows where this book collection is. It is believed that Tsar Ivan the Terrible, fearing the treachery of his courtiers, could take the library outside Moscow, for example, to the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda.
Ivan the Terrible himself died suddenly, and the connection with book treasures was cut off. Probably few were privy to this secret. Thus, after the death of Grozny, the library, which had been collected by many generations of Russian tsars, was lost.
The first attempts to find the legendary library were made at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1718, the sexton Konon Osipov asked permission to explore the Kremlin underground. Osipov discovered an underground passage from the Taininskaya tower, which was covered with earth. Attempts to clear it with the help of soldiers caused new collapses and searches, for safety reasons, were stopped.
A few years later, the stubborn Osipov made another attempt to find the tsar's library. This time, excavations began from the side of the Sobakina Tower. Osipov was assigned a team of prisoners, but difficulties arose due to the rise in groundwater and the danger of the collapse of the Kremlin walls.
At the end of the 19th century, the director of the Armory, Prince NS Shcherbatov, was engaged in the search for the library of Ivan the Terrible. In 1894, he organized excavations with the support of the Governor of Moscow, Prince Sergei Alexandrovich. The work lasted six months, but was stopped due to the death of Emperor Alexander III and the forthcoming coronation of his son Nikolai Alexandrovich in Moscow.
The historian I.E.Zabelin did not doubt the existence of the rich royal library, but believed that it burned down during a fire in 1571.
In the sixties of the last century, there was a renewed interest in the search for a mysterious book depository. But the Soviet government refused to support underground work in the Kremlin.
Disputes about the existence of the library do not subside in our time. Treasures are waiting for their explorers.