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Your Moscow

Gogol’s House
Marina Kashpar

he part of Moscow containing the Arbat and Nikitsky Boulevard; where Gogol’s house stands has a long history. The area was settled back in the 16th century. In 1582 Boyar Nikita Yurev, grandfather of Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, founded a monastery in the area devoted to St Nikita the Great Martyr. Bolshaya and Malaya Nikitskaya Streets, and Nikitsky Boulevard were named after the monastery. The first owner of the estate was Stolnik Ivan Buturin. The stone building was constructed by Dmitry Boltin who was famous not only as an architect, but also as the first translator of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confession in Russian. Up until 1847, the estate was owned by Major-General A.I.Talyzin, then it was passed on to his relative Count Alexander Petrovich Tolstoy.

This old 18th-19th century estate in Nikitsky Boulevard, right in the heart of Moscow, was built in the late Russian empire style and looks pretty much the same today as it did when it was built. This is the only surviving building in Moscow where Nikolai Gogol, the internationally acclaimed Russian writer, lived. Here he resided from 1848 up to his death in 1852. Gogol moved here, having come back to Russia to stay, and was a guest of Count Tolstoy and his wife.

In Tolstoy’s house, “Gogol was looked after like a child and could do whatever he wished. He had nothing to care about.” He enjoyed the quiet of two ground floor rooms, a study and sitting room, and had an opportunity to arrange his life in such a way that nothing would draw him away from his work. It was here that he prepared for the printing of the second edition of his work Selected Passages from Correspondence With my Friends, wrote The Author’s Confession and Discourse on the Holy Liturgy and the second volume of Dead Souls. It was also here that he received his friends: Mikhail Schepkin, Mikhail Pogodin, Ivan Turgenev and others. Anyone visiting the house would as a rule find Gogol working at a high bureau or rewriting a manuscript sitting at the table. When working, Gogol used to pace the room reading out the text he had just created and playing out whole scenes.

At the beginning of 1852 his illness took a sharp turn for the worse. On the night of February 11th Gogol found himself in an extremely severe state, morally and physically, burnt the manuscript of the second volume of Dead Souls in the fireplace, and then refused to eat and be treated by doctors. On the 21st of February Nikolai Gogol died. The mystery of Gogol’s death and the fate of the second volume of Dead Souls remains unsolved to the present day.

Gogol’s House
7a, Nikitsky Bulvar Moscow
Tel: (495) 695 92 56
Open daily, except Tuesdays from 12:00-19:00

Nowadays, Tolstoy’s former estate is known as Gogol’s house in Moscow. The old house is filled with a quite unique 19th century atmosphere: memorial and literary history displays fill the house. Here you can see reconstructed 19th century furniture in Gogol’s study and in the sitting room. There are many engravings, photocopies and drawings, and genuine objects associated with Gogol, such as his death-mask made by sculptor N.A.Ramazanov, an inkstand, a box for sewing needles from Gogol’s estate in Vassilyevka and an album of musical pieces by Mendelsson.

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