Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy


  • Leo Tolstoy is an outstanding Russian writer and thinker who authored internationally known works such as War and Peace, Anna Karenina and
  • Moscow has two museums dedicated to Tolstoy – a memorial one on Lva Tolstogo Street and a literary one on Prechistenka Street.
  • Tolstoy lived mostly in his family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, but he would often come to Moscow, and many Tolstoy-related buildings have survived to this day.
  • Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace gives a detailed description of Moscow in the wake of the French Invasion of 1812: its buildings, streets, boulevards, everyday life and habits of its residents.
  • Sollogub’s old urban manor located at the very end of Povarskaya Street is generally believed to be the Rostovs’ House.
  • Yasnaya Polyana is accessible from Moscow by train (with a transfer) and then by bus. In this old country estate, you can still see the house boasting the original interior and a vast apple orchard.

I.e. Repin. Portrait of Leo Tolstoy in the pink Chair. 1909Leo Tolstoy (1828 — 1910) is one of the best-known Russian writers and thinkers. He wrote 174 fiction works including ‘War and Peace’, ‘Anna Karenina’, and ‘The Resurrection’. His creative work made a great impact on the development of realism, while his works on philosophy laid the foundations for a movement that would become known as “Tolstoyism”. Many of the Moscow addresses mentioned in these works still exist, and Tolstoy himself often visited Moscow for extended periods. Today, in one of the districts of Moscow called KhamovnikiRussian: Хамовники, there are two museums dedicated to the great writer – a memorial museum in Leo Tosltoy street and a literary museum in PrechistenkaRussian: Пречистенка. In fact, this district, together with the neighbouring ArbatRussian: Арбат comprise many more of Tolstoy’s family and literary addresses.


Особняк Щербачева на улице Плющихе, 11Leo Tolstoy loved the capital, although he spent most of his time in Yasnaya PolyanaRussian: Ясная Поляна, literally: “Bright Glade“ – a family estate 200 km south of Moscow). The writer came to Moscow for the first time at the age of nine. His impressions of the city were recorded in his school essay entitled “The Kremlin”. The future writer’s father rented Shcherbachev’s one-storey mansion in PlyuschikhaRussian: Плющихa street. This building still exists today (11, Plyuschikha street).


605_pic_1_sThe Tolstoys’ life in the house was typical of a noble family. The first-floor rooms with tall windows – the great hall, the state dining room, the state drawing room – served a ceremonial purpose. The adults occupied the rooms overlooking the courtyard while the children with their tutors lived on the mezzanine floor. This house was always full of guests: the Gorchakovs, the Musin-Pushkins, the Kaloshins and other relatives and friends of the Tolstoys, who belonged to the Moscow nobility. Later, Tolstoy described many of them in his novel “Childhood”. In 1838, the family moved to a cheaper apartment in Zolotarev’s house in the Arbat area (4 Bolshoy Kakovinsky side streetRussian: Bolshoy Kakovinskiy pereulok or Большой Каковинский переулок).

Улица Пятницкая, дом 12The writer’s next encounter with Moscow took place during his youth, when he had finished his studies at the Kazan UniversityRussian: Kazanskiy universitet or Казанский университет. In December 1850, he rented a small apartment at 36, Sivtsev VrazhekRussian: Сивцев Вражек side street. The house where Tolstoy lived still stands today, and it was here that he began his literary work. He thought of writing a story about the gypsy lifestyle and then also conceived the “History of Yesterday”. He also outlined the novel “Four Epochs of Development”. Sivtsev Vrazhek is also mentioned in “War and Peace”: having returned to Moscow after the fire of 1812during the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812 and his father’s death, Nikolai Rostov settled there “in a small apartment” with his mother and Sonya.

606_pic_2_sIn the mid-1850s, Tolstoy only made short visits to Moscow, and after he returned from his first trip abroad in the autumn of 1857, he rented an apartment in Pyatnitskaya streetRussian: Pyatnitskaya ulitsa or Пятницкая улица, in the merchant Vargin’s house. Tolstoy lived there with his sister Maria, her children, and his brother. The Vargins owned three houses at 12, 14, and 16 Pyatnitskaya street (present-day addresses). It is not known which of these served as the Tolstoys’ residence. In 1985, at 12 Pyatnitskaya Street an exhibition hall, part of the Leo Tolstoy State MuseumRussian: Gosudarstvennyi muzey L. N. Tolstogo or Государственный музей Л. Н. Толстого, was opened. This runs thematic and storeroom exhibitions based on the museum collection.

Главка церкви Рождества Богородицы в КремлеIn the early 1860s, Tolstoy frequented the Kremlin. There, in the Commandant’s quarters of the Poteshny PalaceRussian: Poteshnyi dvorets or Потешный дворец was a flat which belonged to his old friends Andrei and Lyubov Bers. In the autumn of 1862, Leo Tolstoy married their middle daughter Sophia. For 48 years, she was not only his wife and the mother of his thirteen children but also a close friend, assistant, and secretary. Their wedding took place on 23 September 1862 in the Church of the Nativity of the Mother of GodRussian: tserkov Rozhdestva Bogoroditsy, or церковь Рождества Богородицы in the Kremlin (today it is part of the Grand Kremlin PalaceRussian: Bolshoy Kremlyovskiy dvorets or Большой Кремлёвский дворец complex).

A large number of places in Moscow are linked to Tolstoy’s residence in Khamovniki. In the period of 1882-1901, during which Tolstoy experienced writing block and a change in his worldview, he lived in a house in Dolgokhamovnichesky side streetRussian: Dolgokhamovnicheskiy pereulok or Долгохамовнический переулок. Now, the address is 21 Lva TolstogoRussian: Льва Толстого street, the location of the Leo Tolstoy Museum-EstateRussian: muzey-usadba L. N. Tolstogo or музей-усадьба Л. Н. Толстого. This is one of the few museums that still remains mostly intact. The interior features genuine objects owned by the writer.

607_pic_3_sAt the time, Tolstoy frequented Devichye PoleRussian: Девичье поле. Today, there is a monument to him by A. Portyanko (15, Bolshaya PirogovskayaRussian: Большая Пироговская str.), located in a garden square. Tolstoy often attended public lectures at the Moscow UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy universitet or Московский университет, meetings of the Language Art Connoisseurs SocietyRussian: Obschestvo lyubiteley rossiyskoy slovesnosti or Общество любителей российской словесности, as well as exhibitions and concerts at the college in MyasnitskayaRussian: Мясницкая street (21, Myasnitskaya str.), where his daughter studied. He was also often seen in the Tretyakov GalleryRussian: Tretyakovskaya galereya or Третьяковская галерея (10, Lavrushinsky side streetRussian: Lavrushinskiy pereulok or Лаврушинский переулок). Leo Tolstoy’s famous portraits are displayed in it today. The earliest of these is the one painted by I. Kramskoya Russian painter and art critic.

After 1901, the Tolstoys made only short visits to Moscow. 18 September 1909 was the last time Tolstoy stayed at his house in Khamovniki. He left Moscow for Yasnaya Polyana from the Kursky railway stationRussian: Kurskiy vokzal or Курский вокзал, where he was given a festive send-off by the Muscovites, which was captured on tape by the first Russian camera operators. This footage still survives. Yasnaya Polyana (Yasnaya Polyana, Schyokinsky districtRussian: Schyokinskiy rayon or Щекинский район, Tula region)Russian: Tulskaya oblast or Тульская область is now a museum dedicated to Tolstoy. There is no direct route there from Moscow; first you have to take a train to the city of Tulaa city located 193 kilometers south of Moscow (a roughly three-hour journey) and then board a bus to the Museum-Reserve (a roughly thirty-minute journey). There, you will find the house, fully furnished, the large garden with apple trees and ponds and the tall gazebo where the writer’s mother used to relax outdoors. Leo Tolstoy is buried near the ravine, right at the place where, according to family legend, the “Green Wand” that bestowed happiness upon everyone was buried.

Along with the heritage of world-famous people and great museums, there are many  Moscow attractions, which are not so popular, but still very remarkable. Beautiful temples in the Orthodox style, the unusual architecture of the Russian Middle Ages or the recent Soviet era, ballet and drama theaters – information about it you can find on our website.


Monument to L. Tolstoy, executed in 1972, Portianko.In 1863, Tolstoy began work on his epic novel “War and Peace”. He studied the archives and memoirs of those who fought in the Patriotic War of 1812, the magazines and newspapers dating back to the time, to convey the “flavour” of the era he was depicting. During his short visits to Moscow, the writer worked a lot with historical sources of the Manuscript Department of the Rumyantsev MuseumRussian: Rumyantsevskiy muzey or Румянцевский музей, which was located in the surviving Pashkov HouseRussian: Dom Pashkova or Дом Пашкова (14, bld.1, MokhovayaRussian: Моховая str.).

The pages of the novel vividly recreate the look of pre-1812 Moscow: the houses, streets, and boulevards, as well as its dwellers’ life and customs. The Rostovs live in one of the most aristocratic Moscow streets, PovarskayaRussian: Поварская. It is there that the guests in the novel are brought by carriage, and there also that Nikolai Rostov stays during during his military service leave. Legend has it that the old city mansion located at the end of the street is “the Rostovs’ HouseRussian: Dom Rostovykh or Дом Ростовых” (52 Povarskaya street). Чистый переулок, 5In Chisty side streetRussian: Chistyi pereulok, or Чистый переулок (5, Chisty side street) you can still see the house in which N.D. Aphrosimova, the prototype of M.D. Akhrosimova in “War and Peace”, used to live. In the novel, having arrived from the village, the Rostovs – Count Ilya Andreyevich with Natasha and Sonya – stayed in this house. Natasha’s failed kidnapping by Anatole Kuragin is also linked to Akhrosimova’s house. Another building which still survives is the house at 1 Petrovsky BoulevardRussian: Petrovskiy bulvar or Петровский бульвар, built in 1775 to architect M. Kazakovone of the most influential Muscovite architects during the reign of Catherine II’s design. Before the 1812 Fire of Moscow, it housed the English ClubRussian: Angliyskiy klub or Английский клуб described in the pages of “War and Peace”. In this club in 1806, there was a celebration to honour Prince Bagrationa Russian general and prince of Georgian origin, prominent during the Napoleonic Wars. These are but a few of the places in Moscow depicted in the pages of the novel. The attentive reader will find a great number of other Moscow addresses in “War and Peace”.

Английский клуб в наши дниWhile working on the novel “Resurrection”, Tolstoy visited the Butyrskaya prisonRussian: Butyrskaya tyurma or Бутырская тюрьма (45, bld.11, NovoslobodskayaRussian: Новослободская str.) and even accompanied a group of prisoners sent to Siberia on their way from the “ButyrkaRussian: Бутырка” to the Tryokh Vokzalov SquareRussian: Ploschad tryokh vokzalov or Площадь трех вокзалов, in order to experience first-hand what he would subsequently write about.

In the early 1870s, Tolstoy set to writing “Anna Karenina”. In the novel, he described the places in Moscow which he often visited. Among them are the Zoological Garden with an excellent ice rink where Levin comes for a date with Kitty, open air festivities in PodnovinskoeRussian: Подновинское, Khlebhy side streetRussian: Khlebnyi pereulok or Хлебный переулок near the Arbat where the Scherbatskys live (2 Arbat), the Nikolaevsky Railway StationRussian: Nikolaevskiy vokzal or Николаевский вокзал, now renamed LeningradskyRussian: Ленинградский, where Vronsky first sees Anna on the platform after she arrived from St. Petersburg to visit her brother Steva Oblonsky, and the English Club in Tverskaya streetRussian: Tverskaya ulitsa or Тверская улица (now 21 Tverskaya street).


One of the oldest literary museums is housed in a former mansion at 11 PrechistenkaRussian: Пречистенка street. It was built in 1817 to architect A. Grigoriyev’s design. The plastered wooden building is an excellent example of the Empire style; its ceremonial halls are decorated with paintings and its facades with columns and bas-reliefs. The museum was founded in 1911 on the initiative of the Tolstoy SocietyRussian: Tolstovskoe obschestvo or Толстовское общество. Visitors are welcomed by a life-sized seated figure of the writer by I. Ginzburg. The halls exhibit portraits painted by I. Repin and M. NesterovRussian famous painters as well as sculptures by P. Trubetskoy. It is in this Moscow urban estate that the writer’s complete archive, which is of great interest and paramount value, is kept. The museum exposition is arranged so that all of Leo Tolstoy’s legacy is presented in as comprehensive a manner as possible. The Museum preserves the most extensive collection of writer’s authentic personal possessions, manuscripts, photos, and his military awards. Lecture courses on the history of Russian literature, music evenings, and performances are regularly held in the Museum.

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Addresses of Leo Tolstoy in Moscow:
str. Ploshiha, 11
Kakovinskij per., 4.
Sivtsev vrazhek, 36
Pyatnitskaya str., 12
The Moscow Kremlin: the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin (now included in the big Kremlin palace complex).
Str. Vozdvizhenka, d. 3/5s1 (Pashkov House
Cook, 52
Net per. 7
Petrovsky Boulevard, 1
Arbat street, 2
Komsomolskaya Ploshchad 5/43 (Leningradsky station)
Tverskaya Street, 37
str. Leo Tolstoy, d. 21
Khitrov market: Hitrovskij per., 3/1s4
Square maidens ' fields
Michurinsky Prospekt, 13 (Sparrow hills)
Prechistenka, 11
Novoslobodskaya UL., 45 (Butyrskaya tyurma)
Mohovaya, 9 (Moscow State University)
Myasnitskaya, 21
Bolshaya nikitskaya str., 13/6 (Moscow Conservatory)
Kamergersky pereulok, 3 (Arts Theatre)
Teatralny proezd., 1 (little theater)
str. Zemlyanoy Val, 29 (Kursk station)
Yasnaya Polyana
Red Square 1 (historical Museum)
10 lavrushinsky pereulok (Tretyakov Gallery)


Leo Tolstoy seated in an armchair. Sculpture
Newsreel footage
Leningradsky (Nikolayevsky) Railway Station
Devichye Pole
Devichye Pole today. Church of St. Dmitry of Prilutsk
Butyrskaya Prison today
Grand Kremlin Palace. Main facade
Arbat Street today
English Club today
5, Chisty Lane
Khlebny Lane today
Prechistenka Street today
Khamovniki District today
1, Petrovsky Boulevard
Shcherbachev's Mansion at 11, Plyushchikha Street
Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Zoo today
Amusement Palace. Tsar's home theatre
Nikolayevsky Railway Station. An old photo
Moscow University at 9, Mokhovaya Street
Building at 11, Plyushchikha Street
Kremlin. Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos. Dome
Kremlin and Zaryadye in the 1860s. An old photo
Building at 7, Chisty Lane (part of the former Afrosimov Estate)
Khitrovo Market
12, Pyatnitskaya Street
Tretyakov Gallery
Sofya Bers
Branch of the State Tolstoy Museum on Pyatnitskaya Street
Monument to Leo Tolstoy by Alexey Portyanko. 1972
Monument to Leo Tolstoy in the Museum's courtyard on Prechistenka Street. Sculptor: S. D. Merkurov. 1911-1913
P. P. Trubetskoy. Tolstoy on horseback. 1904.
P. P. Tolstoy. Leo Tostoy
M. V. Nesterov. Leo Tolstoy against the Backdrop of a Pond. 1907
L. O. Pasternak. Portrait of Leo Tolstoy
Ilya Repin. Portrait of Leo Tolstoy Sitting in a Pink Armchair. 1909
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