Yasnaya Polyana museum
The Yasnaya Polyana tour includes sightseeing in the city of Tula and a visit to The Leo Tolstoy State Museum. You’ll learn all about the great Russian writer, author of such works as “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”. Finally, you’ll visit the railway station Kozlova Zaseka, used by Tolstoy and his guests.
We start with a light sightseeing tour in Tula, located in 193 kilometers to the south of Moscow. The Tula Kremlin, a surviving monument of the 16th Century, provided protection from raids of nomads. In the Kremlin there are two cathedrals: Assumption Cathedral, having Baroque style, built in 18 century, and the Epiphany Cathedral, built in memory of the soldiers who died in the Patriotic war of 1812. The oldest temple of city is the Annunciation Church, the only monument of the 17th century in Tula. It’s design, a small five-domed Church of “Moscow” type, is in the style of Russian uzoroche.
Next, we go to the estate of Yasnaya Polyana (Bright Glade), the former home of the great Russian author Lev Tolstoy.
Leo Tolstoy was born at the estate in 1828 and he inherited it at very young age, when his parents died. He moved to the estate in 1856 after he finished his military service and lived there for the rest of his life, although he often spent winters at his house in Moscow. At the time, the estate employed about 350 peasants. Tolstoy’s thirteen children, of whom four died in childhood, were all born at Yasnaya Polyana. On a typical day, Tolstoy woke up at 7:00 a.m., did gym exercises, walked in the park before writing. During the harvest season he often worked with the peasants. He also visited the school for peasant children. In 1910 Tolstoy left his estate for the last time, knowing he would never return. He died shortly afterwards and his body was brought back to Yasnaya Polyana where it was buried in a simple grave.
In 1921 the estate was nationalized and became a museum. During the Second World War, the museum was occupied by Nazi soldiers for 45 days, who turned the House into a hospital. Luckily many valuable, historical items had already been evacuated. A fire during the occupation damaged the upper floor of the house. Today the estate remains a museum and is preserved as it looked when Tolstoy last lived in it.
One of the picturesque features of the estate is the birch tree alley which runs from the entrance between the Large and Small Ponds up to Tolstoy’s House.
The main building on the estate is known as the Tolstoy House, although it is actually just a wing of the larger house, which was built by Tolstoy’s father. During your visit you will see the large dining room where Tolstoy entertained many famous guests, Tolstoy’s study with the desk where he wrote and the sofa on which he and his children were born, and Tolstoy’s bedroom and the guest room. The museum contains Tolstoy’s personal things as well as his library of 22,000 volumes.
The building known as the Kuzminskiy Wing was also the part of the main structure built by Tolstoy’s father, and later demolished. Previously the building was used as a school for peasant children, where Tolstoy practiced his theories of education. After 1862 it became the home of the younger sister of his wife, Tatyana Kuzminskiy, and her family (that`s why it called so). Today the Kuzminskiy Wing holds a museum detailing the life and work of Tolstoy.
The third main structure on the estate is the Volkonskiy House, which has been built as the residence for Tolstoy’s grandfather Prince Nikolai Volkonskiy. During Tolstoy’s time the house was the home of servants. Later the wing of the house became a studio of Tolstoy’s daughter Tatyana, who was a painter.
Around the house there are stables and various huts, which were used by peasants.
Tolstoy’s grave is located in the west of the estate in a glade, which was named by Tolstoy and his brother as the ‘Place of the Green Magic Wand’. The two brothers believed that within it was a green magic wand, and whoever found it, would never die or be ill. In accordance with Tolstoy’s wishes his grave is very simple with no headstone.
We had a great experience at Yasnaya Polyana. The estate is peaceful and our guide helped us understand what life was like for the family during the days they lived on the estate. We were happy to see the life one of the greatest writers.