Artistic images surround us everywhere. After all, most writers find inspiration in nature and the outside world! Anna Akhmatova versified, “…I wish you knew the kind of garbage heap. Wild verses grow on, paying shame no heed”. And she was absolutely right! The Petersburg that Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Goncharov, Turgenev, Bely, Akhmatova, Brodsky, Blok, Sologub, Chukovsky, and Dovlatov knew is united, but at the same time it’s diverse; its comic, but also tragic, well-ordered and chaotic, clear and illusory, low and majestic. Centuries have passed, but we can still see the world, where the creators of the Golden and Silver ages lived. It feels like their characters leap from the pages of the books into the calm streets of St. Petersburg. The opportunity to see the world, as the well-known writers did, changes our perception of their writings. Fantasies do become the reality. Below there is a list of literary places in St. Petersburg that are considered to be iconic.
The Stray Dog Cabaret
This cabaret is the first all-night literary-artistic cabaret in Russia. Lots of famous poets (Akhmatova, Gumilev, Kuzmin, Mayakovsky, and Severyanin), well-known directors (Meyerhold and Evreinov), artists (Sudeikin, Kulbin), and writers (Teffi, Averchenko, Tolstoy) were its habitues. The cabaret was opened by Boris Pronin in 1911 and existed for four years.
Above the entrance to the cabaret, the emblem, on which the dog that puts its paw on the theater mask, hangs. It was created by Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. The symbol of the dog could also be seen on the stamped paper and the order, which was awarded to the visitors of the cabaret. The stray dog was associated with the desire of talented people to find their shelter or a place where they could blend into the crowd of kindred spirits and find the inspiration.
The interior decoration of The Stray Dog was quite bright and flashy, heating the imagination. Bohemia and the so-called “pharmacists” (poor people that were buying tickets that cost fortunes) were regular visitors of the cabaret. Theatre parties, performances, debates between poets were held here. Sometimes people came to read scientific papers. During the WWII, the cabaret was transformed into the air shelter. It re-opened only in 2001. Now in the Stray Dog Cafe basement, many exciting creative meetings and events dedicated to the poets of Silver age are held.
Nevsky prospect is the rendezvous point of many literary characters and their authors. Lieutenant Pirogov and artist Piskarev are the main characters of Gogol’s Nevsky prospect story. This is the very same spot where they saw beautiful women and went after them. Being so deceptive and changing the reality, Nevsky can make Arbenin from Lermontov’s novel feel pangs of jealousy at the masquerade party held at the house of Engelgart. Now, this building is The Small Hall of the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonia Bitov’s Lobyshev (Penelope) would wander along the autumn avenue. First, he would feel happy and ready to do heroic deeds, but then… he would meet the ugly girl and run away from her thinking of his dependence on the opinions of others.
I would like to highlight two concrete addresses. The first address is Nevsky Prospekt 18. In Kotomin’s house, the S. Wolff & T. Beranget pastry shop was situated. That was the very same place where Pushkin met Danzas, his seconds. Here Dostoyevsky met Petrashevskiy, and after this, he started attending his political project team. Now it is the Literary café of St Petersburg, where a big variety of poetic and musical performances are held.
The second one is the House of Lopatin, also known as the Literary House (Nevsky, 68). This building is known due to the fact that a lot of known people such as Panayev (Sovremennik magazine editor), Krayevsky (Otechestvennye Zapiski magazine editor), Belinsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Pisarev lived here. In 1905, there was a publishing house of Novaya zhizn magazine, which was headed by Gorky.
Bookstore Writers Shop
At the end of the XVIII century, St. Petersburg was full of opening bookstores. Smirdin is considered to be the best bookseller. His shop was located on Nevsky Prospekt within the walls of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church. It was one of the most outstanding bookstores back in the day. The quality of publications was great and the price for books was quite low. The works of many Russian classics were published there. Among them were Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Krylov, Karamzin, Pushkin, and Lomonosov. Writers, scientists, and artists were conducting meetings there. More than likely, the creation of such a literary salon prompted the idea of having a Literary Fund which would support the men of letters. It was opened in 1859 and closed in 1917. And only in 1934, it was reopened. It was the time when appeared Bookstore Writers shop on Nevsky prospect, 66. Now, anyone can purchase books there, meet today’s writers and visit themed evenings associated with various historical events of Russia.
Gorokhovaya Ulitsa was also a meeting point of different literary characters. Goncharov’s Oblomov, Vera Pavlovna from Chernyshevsky’s novel What Is To Be Done?, Rogozhin and the Queen of spades were there… And even poor Makar Devushkin from Dostoevsky’s Poor folk was its frequent visitor. Walking along the street, he would think about its noisiness and the riot of colors.
On Gorokhovaya Ulitsa 8, there was a “Vienna” restaurant, where many prominent writers, poets, and artists of the Silver age gathered. Among them were Andreev, Block, Averchenko, Kuprin, Gorodetsky, and Chaliapin. Now, it is an “Old Vienna” mini-hotel, each room of which is decorated with antiques from the twentieth century. Various literary evenings and poetry readings, which pay tribute to the past, are held in it.
The house of the Queen of Spades
After the publication of The Queen of spades novel, Pushkin wrote that many had noticed the typological closeness likeness between Princess Natalia Petrovna Galitzine and Pushkin’s character. The princess died when she was 94. She was a part of the princely family and was an effulgent beauty. They say she knew the cards mystery that she had learned from Saint-Germain. He told it to her when she had lost a large sum of money to the count of Orleans.
A description of the house of the Queen of spades corresponds to Pushkin’s words. There’s a huge lobby, a staircase leading to the fireplace, a mirror, a clock, and a spiral staircase… This building still has a mysterious aura. At night people tend to bypass it out of fear to meet the ghost of the old woman that had sent Herman mad.
Presumable house of Parfion Rogozhin
Parfion Rogozhin was a merchant whom Nastasya Filippovna liked, even knowing that he could bring her down. He was passionately in love with her, torn apart by jealousy, hatred, and understanding that his feelings are not mutual. The woman was afraid of him, and not in vain. Rogozhin killed her, thinking he would get rid of feelings that made him suffer so much.
The image of a bloody murderer attracts readers, making them wonder where this character lived. When walking along Gorokhovaya Ulitsa, Prince Myshkin approached Rogozhin’s house, not knowing what he was doing. We read, “The house was a large gloomy-looking structure, without the slightest claim to architectural beauty, in colour a dirty green.” In reality, we see a sullen, bulky building with a doorway fraught with danger. Just like Dostoevsky’s character.
A majestic Summer Garden was Pushkin’s kitchen garden, in which he was wandering around in brogues on his bare feet. He lived near the garden, in Olivier’s house, situated on Panteleymonovskaya Ulitsa. It is the very same place where his character, Eugene Onegin, was walking around when he was little. Raskolnikov was also wandering here, thinking of committing the crime. He thought that it would have been great if the Summer Garden had enriched the dusty town with fresh air.
In the Summer Garden, Krylov monument is reared. It is a magnificent bronze statue that is standing on a granite pedestal on which characters of his fables are carved. The architect Baron von Klodt was the first to set up the Russian writer monument. It happened in 1855, and since then, the visitors of the central walkway of the Summer Garden can see this miracle.
Aside from all this, the audience can also contemplate many characters of ancient literature: Minerva, Nemesis, Euterpe, Flora, Mercury, and Bacchus. During the three years of reconstruction of the Summer Garden, the statues were renovated and moved to Mikhailovsky Palace. Later they were replaced by copies. It feels like this Garden, which now looks exactly like in the XVIII century, is a bridge from the past to the future.
The Black River: a place of Pushkin’s duel
Because of the rumors of Natalia Goncharova being unfaithful and letters sent to the poet by Anonym, the duel of Pushkin and d’Anthès took place. It was the second time when Alexander Sergeyevich threw down the glove to the Frenchman. The first duel was called off because d’Anthès married Ekaterina, Natalia Goncharova’s sister, making d’Anthès and Pushkin brothers-in-law. Despite the prohibition on dueling, Pushkin took part in lots of them. According to the researchers, there were about 29 duels of the poet, but not each one of them happened.
A duel with d’Anthès took place on January 27, 1837, on Black River. D’Anthès gravely wounded Pushkin. Under the terms of the duel, the distance between opponents was negligible: it was only twenty steps. After the poet’s death, Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia, waived all his debts, published Pushkin’s writings and gave all the money to his family, thus ensuring the future of his children.
Now, in the Garden, there is a memorial obelisk dedicated to this tragic event. And in the poet’s apartment on Moyka, 12, his personal belongings, including dueling pistols, are stored.
The street was named in honor of Anton Rubinstein, the composer, who lived in house number 38.
Olga Bergholz, a well-known poetess, spent 10 years of her life in house number 7, situated on the very same street. In the times of Leningrad Siege, she lived with Leningraders; and in such hard times, her verses supported people. Now, the memorial tablet with the image of the poetess, looking aside, hangs on the building.
This street is also considered to be Dovlatov’s. The writer had lived about thirty years in house number 23 and then emigrated. There’s no apartment-turned-museum in the building. In 2007, a memorial tablet with his image was established.
The third literary address is the house with turrets situated on Rubinstein Ulitsa 40, at the intersection of Five Corners. Here lived Lydia Chukovskaya, the writer who published Notes on Anna Akhmatova; she was her close friend, so knew a lot about her.
In 1912, Brigadier General and Count Michael Tolstoy purchased a revenue house on Rubinstein Ulitsa 15-17. It was built for comfort living of people of different social classes. The house was built by Fyodor Lidval, an architect. Built in the style of Northern Art Nouveau, it attracts the attention with its large arches and oval windows. At some point, a lot of famous people, such as Alexander Kuprin, Arkady Averchenko, Irina Kolpakova, and Edward Khil lived here. In 2008, the housing cooperative was opened. It was headed by Marina Kolotilo, an art expert that tried to preserve the outside appearance of the house and implement the plan of creation of the Museum. Three courts were combined into one, and due to the pass-through, one could swiftly pass from the Rubinstein Ulitsa to the embankment of the Fontanka River.
The main entrance
On Liteyny Avenue 37/39, the known main entrance, described in Nikolai Nekrasov’s Reflections by the Main Entrance poem is situated. The writer lived in the house across the street and often watched the crowd of visitors, which were timidly coming there to see such an impressive building. The house that was built in the Renaissance style and has a balcony, decorated with caryatids, looks absolutely majestic. However, the people who came to visit Mikhail Muravyov, Minister of State Properties, were not so great… A portrait sculpture of Nekrasov, who wrote about his hatred of the power players’ dishonor, can be seen in the square.
In the early XIX century, Kolomna was a suburb of St. Petersburg and wasn’t considered to be a part of the city. Pushkin’s parents boarded seven rooms at the end of the Fontanka River embankment. Pushkin lived here from 1817 to 1820 and dedicated a poem The Little House in Kolomna to it. He also decided to lodge Eugene from The Bronze Horseman here. Gogol’s moneylender, whose portrait was bringing people ill luck, lived in Kolomna. There was a small room of Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin.
Alexander Blok lived on Ulitsa Dekabristov, 57 from 1912 to 1921. Since 1980, there has been an Apartment Museum, where visitors can find out some facts from the life of the writer and his works. His most known works were written here. Among them are: The Twelve, The Scythians, and To Pushkin House. He started writing about the Beautiful lady, but then everything changed and his verses were mostly dedicated to the Motherland. Blok was passionate about the revolution, so he dedicated The Twelve poem to it. A short time afterward, he got disappointed in the way everything changed and realized that his vision of the situation was not consistent with the reality. The poet’s beloved woman, opera singer Lyubov Delmas, also lived in Kolomna. She worked in the Musical drama theater located in Theater square, in the building of the Saint Petersburg State Conservatory named after NA Rimsky-Korsakov.
Some other well-known people such as Kuprin, Pilnyak, Karamzin, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Grigorovich, Veresaev, Sokolov-Mikitov, and Erofeev lived in Kolomna.
It is quite common that in St. Petersburg, there are memorial places that are not only related to well-known people, but also to literary characters. Take your time to read the novel Crime and Punishment and try to transcribe the words S-y Alley, K-n Bridge, and V-y Avenue, you’ll see that the words are Stolyarnyi Alley, Kokushkin Bridge, and Voznesenskiy Avenue. Rodion Raskolnikov, the protagonist of the novel, lived in Joachim’s house on Grazhdanskaya Ulitsa, 19. He was poor and settled down on the third floor, to which the famous thirteen steps lead. When writing the novel, Dostoevsky lived near this place, so it was easy for him to accurately depict the place of Rodion’s living. In 1999, on the facade of the building appeared a relief image of Dostoevsky. There is also a granite tablet with such words: “Raskolnikov House. The tragic fate of the people of this area of St. Petersburg Dostoevsky became the basis of his passionate preaching of goodness for all mankind.” The text was written by writer Daniil Granin and academician Dmitry Likhachev.
Monument to the Nose of Major Kovalev
Mayor Kovalev’s Nose is one of the most unusual monuments in St. Petersburg. It was set up on a wall of Vosnesenskiy Avenue, 11. This promotion took place in the mid-nineties as part of the Festival of Satire and Humor Golden Ostap. The place was not chosen by chance. The collegiate assessor, Kovalev, lived in Sadovaya Ulitsa, and his barber worked on Voznesensky Avenue. Pink marble with red veins was brought from Ukraine. The artist Rezo Gabriadze and sculptor Vyacheslav Buhaev did a good job of bringing to life this literary character. However, in 2002, the one-hundred-pound nose mysteriously disappeared from the facade of the building. It was found a year later when the artist Vladimir Panfilov already made an exact copy of the exhibit item. So the nose of Major Kovalyov gave people the runaround once again, leaving the mystery of his disappearance unsolved.
Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to go to the Emerald City? One could meet wizard Goodwin, who was ready to grant any wish. But, at the utmost, people are architects of their own fortunes and can make their dreams the reality themselves. An architectural marvel situated on Ulitsa Pravdy, 2-8 is the evidence of that. There is a close-knit company of brave friends from Volkov’s fairytale. But even here the danger lurks everywhere and Ogre, Bastinda, and winged monkeys are always nearby, waiting for the perfect moment to attack. But Villina and Goodwin are always ready to come to the rescue; they believe that the most important thing is to be courageous and think big! Each person who finds himself/herself here feels that good always triumphs over evil.
On Liteyny Avenue, 24, there is a house, in which at some points of time Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, and Iosif Brodsky lived. Muruzi House was built in the seventies of the XIX century, in Moorish style. Those who barely understand Brodsky, who just loved to quibble, get closer to him when visiting this place. Breathing in this air and capturing the narrative tone of his poetry, which painted an epic picture of the world, makes everyone get interested in his works.
In Muruzi House great projects were implemented. Vladimir Piast’s grandmother opened a public reading hall, and in 20th Nikolay Gumilev founded the Guild of Poets here.
At the Volkovo cemetery, there is a large plot of burial places that is called Literatorskiye Mostki. The graves of many famous writers (Belinsky, Dobrolyubov, Pisarev, Goncharov, Turgenev, Leskov, and Saltykov-Shchedrin), scientists (Mendeleev, Bekhterev), artists (Simonov, Lebedev, Tolubeev), directors (Bryantsev, Kozintsev) are located. The cemetery has a valid status, and when a famous person dies, he or she gets buried on this cemetery.