The Hidden Gems to the South Of Moscow
Russia’s current and former capitals Moscow and St. Petersburg are full of breathtaking places for visitors, but to explore the real Russian soul, to see the real Russian life from the inside there is a step to be made beyond the posh and recognizable cities. A trip to the south of Moscow to a small and cosy town called Tula (and Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana) can be an exciting journey we suggest that you take. A virgin path unobserved by a tourist and full of historically precious monuments is what is awaiting ahead.
Already on the 45th kilometer to the south from Moscow we get to see the splendid Church of Sign in Dubrovitsy. This unique masterpiece is unusual for the Russian architecture. It is a white-stoned building in a baroque style, topped with a crown-like decoration. The mysteries of the beautiful church are still unsolved: no one knows the names of masters that built it and why its architecture differs so much. According to some facts, the chapel was constructed by the mentor of Peter the Great – Boris Golitsin. Prince Golitsin was slandered and humiliated in the eyes of the Russian Tsar. When later he was called back to Moscow and forgiven, he started to build the Church of Sign.
Its interior is richly decorated with sculptures and haut-reliefs. The Dubrovitsy Church is also a place to take incredible photographs because of the beautiful nature surrounding it: rivers, mighty trees and narrow paths. The temple is open for visits and there is a chance to meet locals that come to pray.
Our next stop is the Davidova Pustyn. It is a monastery founded in the beginning of the 16th century by St. David Serpukhovskoy. At a young age he became a monk and by the end of his life he came to the place where now Davidova Pustyn is located with four of his enochs he built cells and first wooden temples. An interesting fact is that St. David had planted a linden alley not far from the monastery roots upward to prove the existence of God and all the trees rooted correctly. Nowadays, the monastery counts 12 monks. It is indeed a spectacular view: parishioners and visitors are welcome here every day.
- However, there is a warning! The monks do not let in those whom they find inappropriately dressed. Men shouldn’t wear shorts and women should have scarves to cover their hair.
3 out of 4 historical places described in this review are part of our Mutiday-day Cultural Tour of Russia. According to your wishes, the program can be changed or extended by including all the aforementioned historical sites into the tour.
Moving on further we face a small museum of the famous writer and doctor Anton Chekhov, where he had spent seven years of his life curing people and creating his literary masterpieces. A close friend of Leo Tolstoy, he is famous all over the world as one of the co-founders of great Russian classical literature. Here, in Melikhovo Anton Chekhov wrote his best stories and his famous play – The Seagull.
Today Chekhov museum in Melikhovo is a very calm and heartfelt place where one can have a walk in a beautiful garden imagining the life of a genius that healed not only human bodies, but also their souls.
And last, but not least place to explore, is the artistic heart of Russia, the magnificent museum estate of Vasily Polenov, a famous painter and one of the leaders of the Peredvizhniki (Wanderers) movement. It was their goal to make art more accessible to the general population. Vasily Polenov was a known philanthropist, thanks to his efforts the two schools and even a church were constructed in the surrounding area.
Today, Polenovo Museum is a place for artistic residencies, welcoming artists from all over the world. The artist’s descendants and the employees, who now run Polenovo museum, carry on his vision that art should be an integral part of everyday life. Numerous art events are held at Polenovo estate each year. Ninety years have passed since the death of the artist but his estate keeps attracting talents from all over the world. And probably the most breathtaking sight is the nature that surrounds it. This place will stay in the minds and hearts of its visitors for a whole lifetime.
Reaching Tula Town
The journey will end by our arrival to Tula, a cozy town with a rich history. It is full of amusing and curious places to visit: Tula museum of Samovars, Tula State Museum of Weapons and even the monument to the cutest dinosaur which locals treat like a human and dress him up on special occasions!
What is most attractive, however, is that Tula is a neighbour to Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate of Leo Tolstoy. Just like a century ago, today Yasnaya Polyana is like a magnet for writers, artists, philosophers and tourists from all over the world that come to visit it to comprehend the mysteries of Tolstoy’s personality and human soul.