- Gorki Leninskiye is a well-known country estate in Moscow Region, a 30-minute drive from Domodedovskaya Metro Station.
- In 1909, the estate was purchased by Zinaida Morozova, Russia’s richest merchant woman and widow of the Russian entpreneur and patron of the arts Savva Morozov.
- Zinaida Morozova commissioned architects F. Shekhtel and F. Kolbe to reconstruct the estate.
- On the eve of the Russian Revolution, Gorki was the best technically equipped country estate of its time. The Bolsheviks nationalized it in 1918.
- Vladimir Lenin chose the Gorki Country Estate as his countryside residence.
- Vladimir Lenin’s Museum, located in the Main Manor House and its northern annex, displays Lenin’s personal effects, household items, clothing and furniture.
Gorki LeninskiyeRussian: Gorki Leninskie or Горки Ленинские is one of the most famous estates in the Moscow OblastRussian: Moskovskaya oblast' or Московская область, a 30-minute drive from the DomodedovskayaRussian: Домодедовская metro station. Most people only associate it with the name of Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet leader. It is true that the complex includes the Lenin MuseumRussian: Muzey V. Lenina or Музей В. Ленина, Lenin’s memorial flatRussian: muzey-kvartira V. Lenina or музей-квартира В. Ленина recently transferred from the Kremlin, and the Scientific and Cultural CentreRussian: Nauchno-kulturnyi tsentr or Научно-культурный центр. However, the importance of this place is not restricted to the name of Lenin, the communist revolutionary. The name of the estate, Gorki, was first mentioned in documents dating back to 1542–1543. Throughout its history, the estate was owned by a number of eminent figures. You couldn’t possibly find another place today where 19th-century furnishings are as well preserved as they are here. You would also be hard-pressed to find such a unique collection of domestic items owned by nobles. In addition, ancient Vyatichia tribe of West Slavs or East Slavs who inhabited a part of the Oka basin’s burial mounds and a few valuable sculptures are sequestered behind the avenues of lime trees in the park.
HISTORY OF THE ESTATE
In ancient times, this land belonged to Ivan I of MoscowGrand Duke of Moscow from 1325 and Vladimir from 1332 (Ivan Kalita), the gatherer of the Russian lands. Later, Gorki was owned by the noble families of Spasitelev, Durasov, and Pisarev, who were replaced by Russian merchants in the 19th century. Alexander Pisareva Russian playwright, translator and theatre critic who owned Gorki in 1824–1861 constructed a large stone mansion with wings, a parterre, and a park with alleys of trees. Its proximity to Moscow was one of Gorki’s advantages, so the merchants who bought from impoverished nobes at the end of the 19th century leased the land for the construction of dachascountryside cottages serving as second homes.
A landmark event occurred in the estate in 1909, when it was purchased by the richest Russian merchant Zinaida Morozova, the widow of Savva Morozov, a famous Russian entrepreneur and philanthropist, one of the founders of the Moscow Art TheatreRussian: Moskovskiy hudozhestvennyi teatr or Московский художественный театр, patron of painters and performing artists. He owned the Nikolskaya Textile MillRussian: Nikolskaya manufaktura or Никольская мануфактура, one of the largest textile plants in Eastern Europe, and provided financial support to the Bolshevik Partycame to power in Russia during the October Revolution phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917 (in particular, he sponsored the publishing of their newspaper PravdaRussian: Правда). Morozov went on a recreational trip abroad in 1905 and was subsequently found dead in Cannes under mysterious circumstances.
The reconstructions of the estate
After her husband’s death, Zinaida decided to move to Gorki and away from noisy Moscow. She invited famous architects Fyodor Schechtel and Fyodor Kolbe to reconstruct the estate. As a result of a six-year reconstruction, Gorki had its own power plant, water tower and plumbing, a stable, an orangery, greenhouses, and a cattle yard. The estate was also equipped with a steam heating system (which is still active!) and telephone communications. The park was modernised and equipped with arboretums, grottos, a tennis court, and a cricket wicket; firs, spruces, cedars, and larches were also planted. Gorki was the most technically advanced estate of its time on the eve of the revolution. It was nationalised by the Bolsheviks in March 1918, and Zinaida Morozova, who had spent so much time, effort and money to make this place look unique, had to give it up for good. The estate measured nearly 300 ha at that time. However, Morozova was a powerful personality deserving of respect and she never stopped looking after the estate even after she was deprived of her title to the property. Thanks to her efforts, Gorki was recognised as national heritage, which allowed for the maintenance of the estate. The widow herself died in poverty in the settlement of IlyinskoeRussian: Ильинское near Moscow in 1947.
As the Bolshevik government moved to Moscow, Vladimir Lenin chose Gorki to be his countryside residence due primarily to its convenient location, excellent infrastructure, and telephone communications.
Lenin’s history in Gorki
Lenin first came to Gorki in 1918 to recover after an assassination attempt. At first, he and his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya lived in two sparsely furnished rooms in one of the wings and would only move to the mansion in summer. There were also rooms for Maria Ulyanova and Dmitry Ulyanov, Lenin’s siblings. There is furniture and a Russian stove in Maria’s bedroom and a billiard table in Dmitry Ulyanov’s room. Lenin finally moved to Gorki on 5 May 1923 due to his declining health. He wished to leave the estate furnishings intact as he considered the estate to be part of the nation’s heritage and wealth, rather than his own personal home. Lenin lived an active life during his first years at the estate: he received guests, paid visits to Moscow, went out hunting, and socialised with locals. In Gorki, he was visited by his associates: Joseph Stalin, Georgy Pyatakov, Mikhail Tomsky, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Nikolai Bukharin, and others. For transport, Lenin purchased a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, equipped with a Kégresse tracka kind of rubber or canvas continuous track which uses a flexible belt rather than interlocking metal segments to provide greater mobility over snow. The vehicle is included in the permanent exhibition of the museum-reserve.
A museum named after Vladimir Lenin was founded in Gorki in 1949. In 1972, the Gorki Leninskiye Museum-Reserve was opened, more than a century after Lenin’s birth. It has since become a mecca for millions of tourists from the Soviet Union and other socialist states.
The museum-reserve facilities cover an area of over 10,000 m2 nowadays, which includes the estate with the park, the Memorial House-Museum of Vladimir Lenin, the museum with a reconstruction of Lenin’s Study and Flat in the KremlinRussian: muzey-rekonstruktsiya «Kabinet i kvartira Lenina v Kremle» or музей-реконструкция «Кабинет и квартира Ленина в Кремле», the large Lenin Scientific Museum and the Cultural Centre built in the Soviet era, the Peasant Life MuseumRussian: Muzey krestyanskogo byta or Музей крестьянского быта, and a garage.
This sight is located far away from the city center, and it is comfortable to use a taxi to reach it. If you are interested in Moscow cab, you can read about it on our website page “Taxi in Moscow”.
ARCHITECTURAL PARK ENSEMBLE
The main courtyard of the estate is unbelievably beautiful. In its centre, you will find a cour d’honneur (‘court of honour’), a big lawn framed with flowerbeds. The lawn is faced by two wings and the mansion is constructed in the classical style. There is a portico with six Ionic columns, bas-reliefs with ancient Greek processions, etc. The eastern façade facing the park has a Tuscan colonnade. You will also see open balustrades for walking framing the mansion, porticos with balconies in the wings, and a fountain with a pool by the entrance.
Near the northern wing, there is a 400-year-old elm tree, which marks the start of a long linden alley. Rows of lindens frame numerous ancient paths that will bring you to curious monuments. One of alleys is even named TraurnayaRussian: Траурная (Mourning) after the sculpture by Sergey Merkurov installed here. The monument is called The Funeral of the LeaderRussian: Pohorony vozhdya or Похороны вождя and depicts the funeral procession carrying Lenin’s coffin. Another famous monument to Lenin that was located in Taynitsky GardenRussian: Taynitskiy sad or Тайницкий сад of the Kremlin before 1995 now can also found in the estate, behind the mansion. Another monument by Isaak Brodskya Soviet sculptor-monumentalist guards the entrance to the preserve. It shows Lenin reflecting, walking across a field, his overcoat unbuttoned.
The balcony and the first floor of the mansion provide a great view over the linden forest with the ancient burial mounds of Viatichi, who inhabited the territory in the 11th–13th centuries. This is an archaeological site. All in all, there are 45 burial mounds in Gorki, scattered over an area of over 1 ha in the linden forest. A tennis court can be found to south-east of the mansion. A round pond with a grotto and a large clearing on a slope marks the heart of the park.
HOUSE-MUSEUM OF VLADIMIR LENIN
The House-Museum of Vladimir Lenin is set up in the mansion and the northern wing. The museum presents a number of the Soviet leader’s possessions: household articles, clothes, furniture, wheelchair, and numerous gifts. The mantel clock that Krupskaya stopped as soon as Lenin died is one of the most significant memorial exhibits. All of them can be found precisely where they were during Lenin’s lifetime, in the same luxurious interior that Zinaida Morozova designed so carefully for her family. This museum illustrates perfectly the collision of two epochs marked by two conflicting lifestyles – that of nobility and that of the bourgeoisie. In the harmoniously furnished rooms, the eye is suddenly drawn to some modern objects that break into the atmosphere: a movie camera, an irrelevant book, or a table that doesn’t fit. Their presence, whilst occasional, is very noticeable.
All the rooms have mosaic parquet flooring, redwood furniture and custom-made sofas and armchairs. Zinaida Morozova also brought her collection of valuables to the estate, which includes Sèvres porcelain, unique pieces of furniture, and paintings from the 18th–19th centuries. The painters represented in this collection include French and Dutch artists Émile-René Ménard, Alix Duval, Willem van Drielenburg, Russian painters Pyotr Goslavsky, Boris Bogolyubov, Aleksandr Borisov, Vitold Byalynitsky-Birulya, and many others. This unique collection can be admired today during a guided tour. The ground floor of the mansion was designed by Morozova to receive guests. The Winter Garden displays a noteworthy collection of vases and sculptures, an elegant furniture set with gold plating, and paintings dating back to the 18th–19th centuries.
The Living room of the estate
Morozova intended to receive guests—grand ladies in bouffant gowns, for the most part—in the living room, so she ordered customised furniture for that purpose. In Lenin’s era, the living room hosted New Year’s Eve parties for children, where Lenin acted as Ded Moroz‘Grandfather Frost’, a Slavic fictional character similar to Father Christmas and Krupskaya played the role of Snegurochka‘Snow Maiden’, the granddaughter and helper of Ded Moroz.
The ground floor also features Vladimir Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya’s library of over 40,000 books, which includes Zinaida Morozova’s book collection.
Vladimir Lenin’s study is one of the main parts of the museum. It contains the historical furnishings of Morozova’s times, namely a bright French-style tapestry and ornate, expensive furniture. The furniture was draped with slipcovers in Soviet times so as not to discredit the image of the revolutionary by drawing attention to the lavish furniture style. The study contains a bureau with documents and the famous rattan chair in which Lenin is captured sitting in a number of photos. Nadezhda Krupskaya also slept here during the leader’s last year of life, as she was worried about her husband’s health and tried to be beside him at all times. Her bed is hidden behind a small curtain wall.
Lenin’s works in the estate
Lenin created about 900 works in his study: books and articles, including the famous ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: An Infantile Disorder, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, The Great Initiative, and The Party Crisis. Gorki was where he mulled over the ideas that underlay the electrification of Russia.
The study is neighboured by Vladimir Lenin’s bedroom with huge mirrors in the ‘palace’ style. This room is where he died on 21 January 1924, the furnishings of that day preserved.
The bathroom on the same floor keeps wonderful examples of bathroom facilities of the early 20th century, containing a marble basin, brass taps, etc. This is where Lenin’s corpse was dissected and examined shortly after his death.
The northern wing contains the rooms of Maria Ulyanova, Nadezhda Krupskaya and Vladimir Lenin in which they lived until the mansion heating system was fixed. The rooms are furnished sparsely, and the floors are covered with wolfskins presented to Lenin by hunters from Tulaan industrial city and the administrative center of Tula Oblast, located 193 kilometers south of Moscow. This wing is also home to the permanent exhibition of local history called Gorki: From the Depths of the Centuries.
LENIN’S STUDY AND FLAT IN THE KREMLIN
The exhibition complex called Lenin’s Study and Flat in the Kremlin is located nearby. Originally, it was housed in Lenin’s suite in the Kremlin Senate. Now, the exhibition is housed in one of the former dachas in Gorki. It includes Lenin’s study in the Kremlin, the library, the dining room, the living room, the kitchen, and even the conference room of the Council of People’s CommissarsRussian: Sovet narodnyih komissarov or Совет народных комиссаров (Sovnarkom) transferred from the Kremlin. Nadezhda Krupskaya and Maria Ulyanova’s Kremlin suites have been reconstructed in the same building.
Lenin’s biographers assert that he was almost always ‘open’ to people. Thus, he met with the locals in one of the peasants’ izbasa traditional Russian countryside log house in the neighbouring village in 1921. It was then that he noticed the lack of light in the house and ordered electricity to be provided to the village of Gorki by connecting it to the estate’s power plant.
In the backyard of the southern wing, you will find the utility section marked by a tall water tower. This is also where the garage where Lenin’s famous Rolls-Royce is located.
LENIN MUSEUM SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL CENTRE
Lenin’s Scientific and Cultural Museum Centre (The Museum of Political History of the Early 20th Century) is a giant complex of nearly 6,000 m2 constructed in 1978–1987 (designed by Leonid Pavlov, architecture academic). It consists of eleven cubic structures and a cylindrical one. This is a memorial complex dedicated to Lenin and the October Revolution of 1917a revolution in Russia led by the Bolsheviks with Vladimir Lenin as a leader that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. The complex is located close to the historic estate. Its main building is faced with light and dark tufa and resembles the Kremlin Palace of CongressRussian: Kremlyovskiy dvorets s'ezdov or Кремлёвский дворец съездов.
The complex has a total of five halls dedicated to the first proletarian leader, the Revolution of 1917, and Soviet government policies. A gleaming figure of Vladimir Lenin meets visitors at the entrance. It is installed in the very centre of a spacious hall, illuminated by a special system that reflects light from the metal elements on the ceiling. The permanent exhibition includes copies of the first Soviet decrees, photos of Lenin and his companions, colours, badges, books signed by Lenin and manuscripts of statesmen and party workers of the Soviet era. The museum also houses the death masks of Lenin and Stalin. A separate section is devoted to the exhibits that describe the possible alternatives for the development of Russia, i.e. the White Movementa loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces that fought the Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/3) documents.
Documentaries, newsreels, photographs, and poster graphics plunge visitors into the atmosphere of the time, which was turbulent and eventful. A black glass cube with a six-minute-long installation is located in the centre of each hall. Nearly all available presentation mediums were used to create those cubes: audio and video materials, slides, unique records of Lenin’s speeches, lighting and optical effects, laser projections, and even smoke and snow machines. The exhibitions captivate visitors, enabling them to be a part of specific historical periods, depending on the hall, while the sophisticated lighting system and the loosely arranged mobile exhibits further enhance the experience. This scientific and cultural centre embodied the most advanced technology of its time and has become the best memorial to the bygone Soviet era.
Today, the centre hosts themed exhibitions, conferences, and political party forums. It is home to musical schools and a culture and leisure centre for locals. In addition, the complex features a 260-seat cinema, a conference hall, a crush bar, and a 40-room hotel.© 2016-2021 moscovery.com