The poet, Mikhail Lermontov spent his summers, as a teenager in the 1830s, at this 19th-century estate Serednikovo just north of Moscow. Source: Phoebe Taplin
One of Moscow’s great attractions is the chance to walk in the footsteps of the world’s great writers: Tolstoy and Chekhov, Pushkin and Pasternak. The city center is crowded with literary museums and memorials, but you can also make atmospheric trips into the countryside and suburbs to discover lakeside mansions or dachas in the forest. Some will be well known to booklovers, but other literary retreats are hidden gems even for life-long Muscovites.
Picnics with Poets
The poet, Mikhail Lermontov, famous for his Byronic tales of the Caucasus, spent his summers, as a teenager in the 1830s, at this 19th-century estate just north of Moscow, which once belonged to his grandmother. The neoclassical mansion is linked by colonnades to four wings, each with its own belvedere, designed to look out over the park.
After the revolution, the buildings housed a tuberculosis sanatorium named “Mtsyri” after one of Lermontov’s poems. In 1992, the Lermontov Center secured a 50-year lease on the estate and restored the interiors.
The wooded grounds are a great destination in their own right, with a lake, tearoom, riding school, natural spring, stone bridges and avenues of lime and larch trees. Visitors can catch a train from Leningradsky Station to Firsanovka and then catch bus No. 40.
The estate’s website has a map and the number (+79250106240) to call to arrange excursions (in Russian) around the main house, which is only accessible via a tour.
The young poet Pushkin spent several summers in Zakharovo estate. Source: Lori/Legion Media
The poet Alexander Pushkin also spent many childhood summers in the Moscow countryside with his grandmother. Maria Hannibal was descended from Pushkin’s enslaved-African-great-grandfather and her reconstructed house is now a museum with an annual Pushkin Festival on the first Sunday in June.
A statue of Pushkin with his grandmother marks the poet’s favorite place, where, as a child, he said he wanted to be buried, while a second boyish bronze figure looks out across the lake. Trains run from Belorussky Stationand take about an hour.
The symbolist poet Alexander Blok is not very well known outside Russia, but the beautiful country estate of Shakhmatovo is worth visiting even if you have never heard of him. Source: Lori/Legion Media
A visit to the wooden house where the poet Alexander Blok lived, surrounded by flowering meadows, is a lovely day trip. Blok’s grandfather called it “a corner of paradise not far from Moscow.”
The nearby village of Tarakanovo has a monument to the poet and his wife next to the dilapidated church where they married, and a small museum. The main estate, a mile away along a country lane, includes a faithful reconstruction of Blok’s charming house, set in wooded gardens, sloping down to a pond.
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