What to do in Moscow in June
As summer is upon us, Passport invites you to take a walk outside … Moscow. Below are three destinations that are not only beautiful but linked with great Russian artists. Here Pushkin and Blok, Aksakov and Vrubel lived and worked, finding inspiration in seemingly ordinary landscapes. Perhaps they will inspire you too.
To say that Abramtsevo is a cozy park and mansion does not do it justice. In reality, this is a place that is inextricably linked with the development of the arts in Russia. The mansion originally belonged to writer Sergei Aksakov, who often extended his hospitality to such writers as Nikolai Gogol and Ivan Turgenev. It was here that Gogol gave the first public reading of his classic novel Dead Souls. A second notable period in the life of Abramtsevo began with the purchase of the estate by art patron and entrepreneur Savva Mamontov in 1870. Mamontov invited great painters of the day such as Ilya Repin to use studios on the grounds. It was here, for example, that Mikhail Vrubel made tiles for Moscow’s famous Metropol Hotel. Near the turn of the 20th century legendary Russian director Konstantin Stanislavsky staged dramas and operas on Russian folkloric themes such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden at Abramtsevo with sets designed by Victor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, and others. With buildings that recapture the style and spirit of medieval Russian ornaments, it’s a nice place to take a weekend walk while learning more about Russian culture. Don’t miss the picturesque tiled church.
Alexander Pushkin is our everything. This is what Russian students typically hear from their literature teachers from their earliest years at school. This year June 6, the poet’s birthday, will be marked by a festive celebration at his birthplace and childhood home, the Bolshiye Vyazemy mansion. Today the Pushkin complex, located not far from Moscow, consists of two mansions: Zakharovo and Vyazemy.
The Vyazemy estate that belonged to Pushkin’s relatives, the Galitsyn family, includes a park and mansion complex that appeared in the 16th century and was reconstructed and embellished up through the 19th century. The Church of the Transfiguration, belfry, beautiful parks, ponds, and mansion itself, though restored, were there when Pushkin was a child. This place is often called the poetic motherland of Pushkin as it is here that he became acquainted with the beauty of Russian landscapes, national music and fairy tales, and, most importantly, the Russian language.
According to Russian poet Alexander Blok, the main mission of Shakmatovo was to bring “a piece of heaven close to Moscow.” The mansion lies not far from the modern town of Solnechnogorsk, near the beautiful Senezh lake and the glacial lake known as Bezdonnoye [Bottomless]. The main building of the Shakhmatovo mansion was constructed in the early 19th century and includes huge Italian windows and a balcony-terrace overlooking a pond in the woods below. In 1910 the poet reconstructed the mansion to his taste, adding a wing for his library. The house is surrounded by a lovely park. It is curious to note that Blok found the love of his life here, too. He married the daughter of the great scientist Dmitri Mendeleev, who had an estate not far from Shakhmatovo. The historic sights nearby include the Nikolaevsky-Peshoshsky monastery, founded in 1361 by Sergy Radonezhsky’s apprentice Reverend Mefodiy.