Country Estates Make Great Autumn Getaways The Russian poets love autumn. Autumn is freedom and tranquility; it is the brief, barely perceivable splendor of the landscape before it quickly fades to winter. Nowadays, autumn in European Russia lasts only a few weeks—it is a fleeting period of golden foliage, mustard-colored leaves rustling underfoot, crimson sunsets and chilly twilights.
Pskov - Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod Situated 76 kilometers from Moscow, the Abramtsevo manor estate, now a museum-reserve, belonged to the writer Sergei Aksakov and, later, Savva Mamontov. Thanks to Mamontov, the Abramtsevo estate became a center of artistic life in late 19th-century Russia. The estate welcomed a roster of guests that included the writers Gogol and Turgenev, the artists Repin, Vasnetsov, Vrubel, Korovin and Levitan, and the renowned bass singer Fyodor Shalyapin. Nowadays, the 50 hectares occupied by this museum-reserve contain a park and monuments to 18th- and 19th-century architecture. In the native village of the Russian poet Sergei Esenin, located in the Ryazan region 270 kilometers from Moscow, a museum-reserve was opened in 1965. Right after the poet’s death in 1925, devotees of his work began making pilgrimages to Konstantinvo. They met Esenin’s mother and sister in Esenin’s house, and record books show thousands of notes requesting that an Esenin museum be opened in the village. Annual festivals, poetry nights and concerts are now held in the village. The Esenins’ estate, the Church of Our Lady of Kazan, a literary exhibition, and zemstvo and teacher training schools have all been preserved in the village. A favorite autumn destination among Russians is the “house on the Oka,” the estate of Vasily Polenov, a national artist of the RSFSR. The estate was built more than 100 years ago and stands 130 kilometers from Moscow. The artist designed the main house, the artist’s “Abbey,” and the annexes, all of which are located on the estate, as well as St. Trinity Church, which is two kilometers away. Today the estate is a state museum-reserve covering 14 hectares and including 17 memorial buildings and a park on the grounds, where most of the trees were planted personally by the artist. For those who love Russian culture, the village of Boldino, in the southeastern part of Nizhny Novgorod Region (570 kilometers from Moscow), will always be associated with the genius of the great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin. The seclusion in the village of Bolshoe Boldino, due to a cholera quarantine which coincided with his long-awaited marriage to Natalya Goncharova. This unexpected conjunction of events led to a surge of creativity known as the “Boldino autumn.” The several masterpieces completed during that brief period include the final chapters of his epochal novel in verse, “Eugene Onegin,” one of the most influential works in Russian culture. The Mikhailovskoe estate, which in the early 20th century became part of the Pushkinskie Gory state reserve along with the nearby Trigorskoe and Petrovskoe estates. The Pushkins’ estate was built at Mikhailovskoe in the 18th century by the poet’s uncle, Osip Gannibal. There the poet wrote the middle chapters of the novel “Eugene Onegin,” the tragedy “Boris Godunov” and other works. Now, this reserve, that lies 650 kilometers from Moscow, covers 9,800 hectares and includes five lakes; flood meadows and park areas near the estates of the poet’s relatives and friends; Pushkin’s grave and the family necropolis; and the scientific and cultural center of the Pushkinskie Gory community. The “autumn” writer Leo Tolstoy lived and worked at his ancestral estate, Yasnaya Polyana, which is located 200 kilometers south of Moscow. There he wrote his famous novels “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,” among a great number of his other works. This is also the location of his burial site. The Yasnaya Polyana state memorial and natural preserve currently displays authentic furniture from the estate, Tolstoy’s personal possessions, his 20,000-book library, the work house of the writer Prince Volkonsky, the Kuzminsky House, which held a school that Tolstoy opened for peasant children, and a bathhouse.