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SIGHTS ST. PETERSBURG
MUSEUMS OF ST. PETERSBURG
Aleksander Pushkin Apartment Museum
Perhaps the most distinguished man of letters who owed, at least partly, his poetic success to Saint-Petersburg, the city he lived and died in, is Alexander Pushkin, who was alone to gain the title of “Everything” Russian literature.
Eleven year old Pushkin came to Saint-Petersburg from Moscow in 1811 to enter the State Lyceum founded by Alexander I the very same year in Tsarskoye Selo. It was at the Lyceum that Pushkin got started on his rhymes and poems, among them the famous “Ruslan and Ludmila”, and won his first popularity. The Lyceum building and all the other constructions of the city he staid in for a while are now Pushkin’s museums. Since 1937 the city together with the palace and park ensemble was renamed Pushkin, though in the late 1990th it was renamed back into Tsarskoye Selo.
After graduating from the Lyceum Pushkin settled in Saint-Petersburg. Apart from lyrics and drama poems, he kept on writing his accusatory verses decrying the Emperor Alexander I. It did not take much time for the pamphlets to reach the Emperor. The young poet was exiled to the South, to the city of Kishinev. However, in exile Pushkin got yet more determined in his radical views. He made friends with future Decembrists and only an irony of fate, a black cat crossing Pushkin’s way, deterred him from arriving in the capital and taking part in the Decembrists’ revolt. Nevertheless, he was banished from the city again and stayed in his estate Mikhailovskoye for two more years, from 1824 to 1826. There he wrote the poem “Gipsies”, and the drama “Boris Godunov”.
The new Emperor Nicolas I let the poet come back to Saint-Petersburg. In 1827 he rented an apartment in Galernaya Street 53, just across the Senat Square with the Bronze Horseman. The statue was to become the hero of Pushkin’s poem by the same title. It was the time Pushkin turned to historical theme. He had scrutinised volumes of chronicles in the Public Library and the archives of the General Headquarters before to write his poems about Razin, Pugachiev, Peter I, to create “Poltava” and the uncompleted prose work “Arap of Peter the Great”, the latter being a kind of genealogical autobiography.
In 1831 Pushkin married Natalie Goncharova, a woman famous for her supreme beauty. Still, Pushkin was anything but happy. From one hand, having rather extraordinary appearance thanks to his background, he nonetheless had a special sense for beautiful women. They responded favourably more often than not, since Pushkin, short and far from handsome as he was, possessed an obvious charm. From the other hand, he seemed to set a low value on those affairs. Besides, he had a lot more bitter enemies, largely thanks to his satirical pamphlets, than truly intimate friends.
In the early 1830-s Pushkin tried prose and the experience turned amazingly successful. His prose works “Small tragedies” and “Queen of Spades” became very popular as soon as they had been published. In 1836, a year before his death, he rented his last apartment on 12 Moyka River Embankment and settled there with his wife and four children. Now the restored building is Pushkin’s Memorial Apartment, the main museum of the poet. All the interiors are carefully preserved. There is still the book lying open on the table just like it was when he read it the last time, a few hours before his fatal duel with Dantes.
The duel was quite a tangled matter. Most likely, it was a provocative sham by some of numerable Pushkin’s enemies. They rumoured it that the Frenchman Dantes had an affair with Natalie. No doubt, she gave no reasons for such an accusation. Any reasons were doubtful at all, since Dantes was said to be homosexual. Pushkin himself had noted the fact in one of his sarcastic verses. Besides, to deter any suspicions Dantes had married Natalie’s elder sister. But the provocateurs didn’t give up. Pushkin had to react. The duel was dated at January 27, 1837. The last morning of his life Pushkin spent in the nearby Confectionery “Volf & Berange” (Nevsky Prospekt 18). Now the Literature Cafe consecrated to the memory of Pushkin is housed in the building.
It was from the Cafe that Pushkin left for the duel at a deserted place near the today’s Chyornaya Rechka metro station. A memorial obelisk was put up in the centre of a pretty square, right on spot where Pushkin fell down wounded fatally by Dantes. He died 2:45 p.m. on January 29 in his apartment on the Moyka 12.
Pushkin's last home (he only lived here for a year), at naberezhnaya reki Moyki 12, is beside one of the prettiest curves of the Moyka River. This is where the poet died after his duel in 1837. His
killer was a French soldier of fortune, Baron d'Anthes, who had been publicly courting Pushkin's beautiful wife,
Natalia. The affair was widely seen as a put-up job on behalf of Tsar Nicholas I, who
found the famed poet's radical politics inconvenient — and who, gossip said, may himself have been the one really stalking
The museum was opened on its premises in 1925.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT MUSEUM:
- 12 Moika River Embankment (Moiki Reki Naberezhnaya)
- Metro stations - Gostinyy Dvor, Nevsky Prospekt
- Open Wednesday through Monday, from 10.00 am to 05.00 pm.
- Closed on Tuesday and last Friday of every month.
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