Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765) is sometimes called the Russian Leonardo da Vinci. A natural scientist, physicist, chemist, astronomer, poet and painter, he was certainly a man of all talents. His name is closely associated with the cities of Arkhangelska city in the north of European Russia, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Marburg, Freiberg and Amsterdam. Moscow, however, was also a key city in Lomonosov’s life. The Moscow UniversityRussian: Moskovskiy universitet or Московский университет was established by Lomonosov himself and is therefore one of the main places associated with him in the capital.
Lomonosov’s first journey to Moscow
In 1731, Lomonosov arrived in Moscow from the faraway city of Arkhangelsk, leaving behind his loving but illiterate father, his tyrannical stepmother and the bride that had been imposed on him. He first stayed with Ivan Dutikov, a scribe and a fellow countryman, whom he met by sheer luck by a fish stall at the market. Today, this place located between VarvarkaRussian: Варварка and IlyinkaRussian: Ильинка Streets is known as the Rybny (Fish) DrivewayRussian: Rybnyi pereulok or Рыбный переулок.
At the, Moscow had temporarily became Russia’s capital once again, after Emperor Peter IIreigned as Emperor of Russia from 1727 until his death in 1730 had moved there for hunting, and was followed by his imperial court. The city became more animated, opening up numerous opportunities for young people to prove themselves and obtain a career.
At the initiative of Symeon Polotsky, the educator of the tsar’s children and one of the outstanding poets of the 17th century, the Slavic Greek Latin AcademyRussian: Slavyano-greko-latinskaya akademiya or Славяно-греко-латинская академия was established on the premises of the Monastery of the Holy MandilionRussian: Zaikonospasskiy monastyr or Заиконоспасский монастырь in Moscow (Block 9, 7, Nikolskaya StreetRussian: ulitsa Nikolskaya or улица Никольская). This Orthodox monastery was built by Tsar Boris Godunovwas elected tsar of Muscovy (reigning 1598–1605) after the extinction of the Rurik dynasty in the 16th century. The Cathedral of Christ the SaviourRussian: Spasskiy sobor or Спасский собор was built in the second half of the 17th century. It now is divided into two churches, the upper one consecrated to the icon of the Joy of All Who SorrowRussian: ikona Bogoroditsy Vsekh skorbyaschikh Radosti or икона Богородицы Всех скорбящих Радости and the lower one consecrated to the icon of Jesus Christ Not Made by HandsRussian: ikona Spasa Nerukotvornogo or икона Спаса Нерукотворного. The Monastery of the Holy Mandilion is currently an active monastery.
In Lomonosov’s times, Muscovites called this location ‘Spassky schoolsRussian: Spasskie shkoly or Спасские школы’. The brothers Likhudy were monks who founded the Academy, and a monument to them was erected in front of the old building of the Academy in Bogoyavlensky LaneRussian: Bogoyavlenskiy pereulok or Богоявленский переулок in 2007. At the time, most students entered the Academy at the age of twelve and remained in school for another twelve years. As for Lomonosov, he was 19 years old in 1731 when he entered the academy. Later, he wrote in a letter to Count Ivan Shuvalov, the lover of Empress Elizabeththe Empress of Russia from 1741 until 1761 of Russia: “…the schoolchildren, these little kids, shouted pointing at me: ‘Look at that blockhead, he is twenty and wants to learn Latin”. The young man, however, demonstrated superior abilities and passed all the examinations, achieving higher grades than his classmates. His years of schooling were hard, as he later wrote: “With three kopecksRussian Coins a day, I could only buy some bread and kvassa traditional Slavic fermented beverage commonly made from rye bread, some paper and shoes. I lived in such a manner for five years (1731-1736) but never gave up learning”. The Slavic Greek Latin Academy is still active today, but has moved to the south-east of Moscow.
To enter the Academy, his social background was a much greater problem for Lomonosov than his age. In 1728, after the death of Peter Iruled from 1682 until 1725, the Academy was prohibited from accepting lower-class children and, in order to be able to be admitted, he falsely claimed to be the son of a priest. Three years later, he had to explain the reasons for his fraud before the Synoda council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. Meanwhile, Lomonosov, who had excellent results in studying, had gained popularity and found some allies. Consequently, he was granted pardon. To hush up this affair, according to some of his biographers, Lomonosov went to continue his studies in Kiev. In 1736, the Academy of Sciences awarded grants to the 20 top students from the Spassky MonasteryRussian: Spasskiy monastyr or Спасский монастырь, including Mikhail Lomonosov. These grants were to be used to continue studying in St. Petersburg and then in Europe.
Moscow university during the reign of empresses Elizabeth and Catherine
Lomonosov left St. Petersburg for Europe and travelled extensively there before returning to St. Petersburg, where he lived for most of his life. Lomonosov frequented the imperial court and often met with Empress Elizabeth and her lover, Count Ivan Shuvalov. The empress bestowed a noble title on Lomonosov and helped him to climb the ranks of society. During these years, he made major discoveries in physics and chemistry, established a glass-making workshop, gained fame as an inventor of optic devices, became a professor at the Academy of Sciences and authored many well-known works of poetry. At the same time, Lomonosov contributed much to the development of public education. The Moscow university was the first large-scale project launched by Lomonosov and Count Shuvalov; in 1754, they presented a joint report to the Senatea legislative, judicial, and executive body of the Russian Emperors concerning its establishment, and the university was inaugurated the following year, in April 1755.
The decision to found a university in a large city located far from the capital had arisen from the fact that, according to the founders of the university, young people would be able to pursue their studies in a calm atmosphere without getting distracted by entertainment and social life. Only one hundred students initially attended the university and its affiliated college, including the brothers Fonvizin, Nikolay Novikov and Grigory Potemkina Russian military leader, statesman, nobleman and favourite of Catherine the Great, who became illustrious statesmen during the reign of the next empress, Catherine the GreatEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader and its most renowned.
At first, the university was located in the building of the Zemskaya PharmacyRussian: Zemskaya apteka or Земская аптека, which no longer exists. It was rebuilt by architect Dmitry Ukhtomsky to meet the needs of the university. The building was later replaced by the State Historical MuseumRussian: Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskiy muzey or Государственный Исторический музей (1, Red Square), and the college and the dormitory were located in the courtyard of the Trinity Lavra of St. SergiusRussian: podvorie Troitse-Sergievoy lavry or подворье Троице-Сергиевой лавры (8-10, 2nd Troitsky LaneRussian: 2-y Troitskiy pereulok or 2-й Троицкий переулок ).
The cold and rundown facilities were not appropriate for living or studying and Lomonosov repeatedly came to Moscow from St. Petersburg and voiced to the court his concerns about the students’ living conditions. Empress Catherine II purchased Repin’s HouseRussian: dom Repina or дом Репина on Nikitskaya StreetRussian: Nikitskaya ulitsa or Никитская улица and handed it over to the university, along with some other lots and estates in the area around Nikitskaya and MokhovayaRussian: Моховая Streets that were to have university buildings built upon them. Shortly after Lomonosov’s death, the Moscow University moved to a new custom-made building (Block 1, 11, Mokhovaya Street).
The first building was designed by Matvey Kazakovone of the most influential Muscovite architects during the reign of Catherine II in 1782. During the 1812 Fire of Moscowduring the war between the Russian Empire and Napoleonic France on the territory of Russia in 1812, it burned almost to the ground and was later rebuilt by architect Domenico Gilardi. He added a high basement and lion heads to Kazakov’s building and replaced the Ionic columns with Doric ones. The original сlassical exterior of the building was preserved, with its long, three-tier façade, plain dome and eight-columned portico. Today, it houses the Faculty of Psychology of the Moscow State University and the Institute of Asian and African StudiesRussian: Institut stran Azii i Afriki or Институт стран Азии и Африки.
The Auditorium BuildingRussian: Auditornyi korpus or Аудиторный корпус, built by Evgraf Tyurin in the 1830s, is located at 9, Mokhovaya Street and now houses the Faculty of Journalism. A monument to Mikhail Lomonosov stands on a high round base in front of the building (Block 1, 9, Mokhovaya Street). It was the Soviet sculptor Sergey Merkurov who built the first monument to Lomonosov on this spot in the aftermath of World War II. This life-sized statue of Mikhail Lomonosov holding a globe and a manuscript was made of plaster and soon began to crumble, so a new monument was constructed by I. Kozlovsky in 1957 – this is the one we see today.
Located not far from the Kazakov and Auditorium Buildings and linked with the university is the Church of St. Martyress TatianaRussian: tserkov' svyatoy muchenitsy Tatiany or церковь святой мученицы Татианы. This church is well worth a visit. It is Moscow’s only church consecrated to this particular saint. Empress Elizabeth signed the decree for the establishment of the University on Tatiana Day, observed on 25 January. This saint came to be venerated in Russia as the patron saint of students, and the church was consecrated to her on the university campus. In this church’s anteroom is the bronze bust of Lomonosov that once stood in front of the Auditorium Building on the site of the present-day monument.
The first church near the Kazakov Building at 11, Mokhovaya Street, burned down in 1812. The modern church (at 1, Bolshaya NikitskayaRussian: Большая Никитская Street) was built by E. Tyurin. This elegant structure seems to bring together university buildings, the ManezhRussian: Манеж and Red Square and does not actually look like a church at all. The main entrance to the church from the side of Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street doesn’t stand out from the surround architecture, either. In contrast with traditional Orthodox architecture, this church is an Empire-style semi-rotunda with a columned external façade rather than the usual cross-domed church.
Along with the heritage of world-famous people and great museums, there are many attractions in Moscow, 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 – on our website you can learn more about Moscow sightseeing.
Moscow state university in the 20th and 21st centuries and memory of Mikhail Lomonosov
Today, the best-known building of the Moscow State University (MSU)Russian: Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyi universitet (MGU) or Московский государственный университет (МГУ) is situated in Sparrow HillsRussian: Vorobevy gory or Воробьевы горы, at 1, Leninskiye HillsRussian: Leninskie gory or Ленинские горы, along with other university buildings dating back to the Soviet period.
A long avenue named after Mikhail Lomonosov is lined with three modern MSU buildings, one of them named the Lomonosovsky building. The upcoming LomonosovskayaRussian: Ломоносовская Metro Station, which is to be located on Indira Gandhi SquareRussian: ploschad Indiry Gandi or площадь Индиры Ганди, is also named after Lomonosov.
A monument to Lomonosov by N. Tomsky and L. Rudnev stands in front of the Fundamental LibraryRussian: Fundamentalnaya biblioteka or Фундаментальная библиотека, next to the Main building of the Moscow State University. Across from this building is a monument to Count Ivan Shuvalov, the co-founder of the Moscow University. This monument to Lomonosov is treated as if it were a living thing and many student traditions are associated with it. For example, on the Day of the Chemist, students put a T-shirt on the monument, and the Faculties of Physics and Chemistry argue endlessly about which of them Lomonosov favours more. The disagreement comes from the fact that the monument faces the Faculty of Physics, but is located closer to the Faculty of Chemistry.© 2016-2019 moscovery.com