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Alexander Pushkin Apartment Museum (Muzey Kvartira Alexandra Pushkina)
Alexander Pushkin Apartment Museum (Muzey Kvartira Alexandra Pushkina) Review
After fighting a duel to defend his wife's honor, the beloved Russian poet Alexander Pushkin died in a rented apartment in this building on January 27, 1837. The poet lived out the last act of his illustrious career here, and what a life it was. Pushkin (b. 1799) occupies in Russian literature the position enjoyed by Shakespeare and Goethe in the respective literatures of England and Germany. He is most famous as the author of Eugene Onegin, the ultimate tale of unrequited love, whose Byronic hero is seen more as the victim than as the arbiter of his own fate (a new sort of "hero" who cleared the path for the later achievements of Tolstoy and Chekhov). At the heart of this story—which involves a young genteel girl who falls in love with Onegin only to be rejected, then years later winds up rejecting Onegin when he falls in love with her—is a sense of despair, which colored much of Pushkin's own life and death. The poet was killed by a dashing count who had openly made a play for Pushkin's wife, Natalya Goncharova, reputedly "the most beautiful woman in Russia."
Pushkin actually lived at this address less than a year (and could afford it only because of the palace owners, the noble Volkhonsky family, co-sympathizers with the poet for the Decembrist cause). The apartment museum has been restored to give it the appearance of an upper-middle-class dwelling typical of the beginning of the 19th century. (Pushkin had to support a family of six with his writing, so his apartment was less luxurious than it looks now.) Although few of the furnishings are authentic, his personal effects (including the waistcoat he wore during the duel) and those of his wife are on display. Recently, St. Petersburg forensic experts verified that the bloodstains on the sofa here were indeed left by the poet's gunshot wound. The library, where Pushkin actually expired, has been rebuilt according to sketches made by his friend and fellow poet Vasily Zhukovsky, who was holding vigil in his last hours. A moving tape-recorded account leads you through the apartment and retells the events leading up to the poet's death.
After you've seen Pushkin's deathbed, it's worth visiting the small Konyushennaya Church around the corner, where his funeral was held on February 1, 1837. Coming out of Moika 12, turn right, and right again at the bridge; the Imperial stables and Konyushennaya Square are on your left. The door to the left of the passageway in the central portion of the stables is the entrance to the church. Pushkin's funeral was held here, some say, to keep a low profile (the church was too small for a big crowd to attend), and perhaps as a special favor from Emperor Nicholas I, since the church was attached to the palace and not open to the public. Its coziness, light, and warmth make the church, which was built between 1816 and 1823 by Stassov, a very tranquil stop. It's open daily 9 to 7. 1 Konyushennaya Pl.
- Address: 12 nab. Moika, City Center, St. Petersburg
- Phone: 812/314-0006
- Cost: 100R; audioguide in English, German, French, or Italian 100R
- Hours: Wed.--Mon. 10:30--5. Closed last Fri. of month
- Website: www.museumpushkin.ru
- Metro: Nevsky Prospekt.
- Location: City Center: Palace Square and the Hermitage
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