YASNAYA POLYANA TULA
There is a remarkable word in Russian language “usadba” which means “bowery”. It touches the soul, draws pictures of a quiet family life in your mind, it is closely related to the nature. When we hear the words “Yasnaya Polyana” this imaginative picture becomes even brighter and has precisely drawn images. Yasnaya Polyana is Leo Tolstoi and his wife, it’s a huge house with a library, it’s a smell of gooseberry jam, it’s black and white photos on the walls, it’s a merry clutter of children. Yasnaya Polyana is a place of special love, it’s the home, the Motherland, and, sometimes it seems, the entire Universe.
This place was inherited by the ancestors of the famous writer just after the Tzar’s proclamation of the liberties of the nobility. This document allowed them to fully deep themselves into private life and do things they loved. Leo Tolstoi was born in Yasnaya Polyana, he brought his young wife here just after matrimony, all his children were born here, almost all his works were written here and finally his grave is here.
From the hotel Podvorye to the museum-estate "Yasnaya Polyana" can be reached by shuttle buses 114 (114-k), 117 (117-k), 280. Travel time: 20-25 min.
Today Yasnayha Polyana is the museum preserve just 14 km away from Tula. It’s open for the visitors wishing just to see place of the great writer and literally to live his life for several hours, to plunge in his era, to feel the same Tolstoi felt. You may visit this place at any season of the year because every season has its own charm.
However, you will have a complete understanding of everyday life in Yasnaya Polyana only in summer. The territory of bowery is huge, so you should have at least extra half a day when planning the trip.
When approaching the bowery the visitor sees entry towers visible from afar. This is the first landmark of Yasnaya Polyana. They are strong and graceful at the same time. Formerly, there were the gates hanging in between, that were opened for the guests at the host’s discretion.
Today, you won’t find the gates but this does not diminish splendor of the towers.
A wide birch walkway starts just after the towers which Tolstoi called “preshpect”.
You can imagine how the writer strolled along many years ago and admired the same forget-me-nots now and then looking out among the birch trees.
The main poetic image of Yasnaya Polyana is Bolsoi prud (wide pond) with its mirror water. The then young Tolstoi angled here, his wife came here to calm down after family quarrels.
This pond is especially lovely when reflecting sparkling rays of morning sun.
Having passed the pond, the visitor approaches the Lower Park. They can see a lot of silver poplars, thin birch trees, high spruces growing there. Several small artificial ponds seen here were made by the hands of Tolstoi’s maternal grandfather, the ponds are overturned through by the inimitable bridges.
The walkways of the Lower Park are intentionally very curved and they lead the strollers to the secret landscape corners.
One of the peculiarities of the Lower Park is the look-out tower where Tolstoi’s mother used to sit. It solemnly stands deep inside the Park and looks like the watchman.
Having made a few slow steps out of the Park you find yourself in the world of smells. They are coming out of the greenhouse where various flowers have been grown for over a century.
Close to the greenhouse there are thickets of raspberry. Having approached them you frighten a flock of sparrows living in that wilderness.
One of the architectural structures of “Yasnaya Polyana” is the house of Volkonsky. It’s a small house built in classic style where several rooms were actually art studios of the elder Tolstoi’s daughter.
But the main structure where the tour guides lead you to is the very house of Toltoi family. The visitors may walk through the rooms to find themselves on the famous white carved porch, to see private belongings of Tolstoi family.
Domestic poultry (geese, hens, ducks) scamper at the backyard near to the house. It gives you an impression as if nothing changed since the great writer lived in the bowery.
A special place in Yasnaya Polyana is the apple-tree gardens laid out by Tolstoi and his wife. At the time of flowering they create an inexpressible image of idyll. They still produce apple crops. Despite the fact that so many years had passed since the trees were planted, despite that they were on fire during the war.
You can buy these apples from the small trade tables at the entrance to the bowery. Jam made from these apples and even stems of some varieties growing at the bowery territory can be bought here.
Every visitor of the “Yasnaya Polyana” bowery should end their trip at Tolstoi’s grave. There is no fencing or the cross there: the writer was excommunicated. It’s just a small mound covered with grass and flowers laid by the visitors. Such burial place was chosen purposely.
This is the very place where young Leo and his brother Sergei played a magic pipe. They took a small twig and one of the brothers hid it somewhere here and the other brother had to find it.
The brothers believe that if the twig was found it would fulfill all the desires. Naturally, to find the twig in the forest was as difficult as to pick a needle out of the haystack. On Leo Tolstoi memories they could never find the hidden twig and make a wish. For the whole life he treated this place with special awe.