Pushkinskiye Gory

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Europe » Russia
August 21st 2013
Published: August 23rd 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

21 August

Pushkinskiye Gory is a settlement in the Pskov Region of Russia, with about five thousand dwellers. It has regular bus connections with St. Petersburg and can be reached in some 7-8 hours. The worthwhile sites are the Mikhailovskoye, Trigorskoye, and Petrovskoye homesteads and its memorial parks dedicated to the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, as well as Svyato-Uspensky Monastery with Pushkin's grave, lakes, Bugrovo mill and museum, and a lot of apple trees!

The name of Pushkin is, perhaps, among the most well-known in Russia, the same as Lenin. I do not know about the perception of his works worldwide, but a titan of Russian literature he is. What I’m driving at is that I felt a need to go and see at least some of the places where the poet had been and worked. Didn’t I previously visit Francois I’s castle in Chambord, why not visit a place related to a poet, not to a king? Analogies can be also drawn to the unforgettable Monet's House in Giverny.

I decided to go to Pushkinskiye Gory because the list of Davranov Travel excursions included a 24-hour visit there. I had bought an excursion about a month and half ago, but it was cancelled. This time I decided to visit P.Gory on my own, in order mainly to check the regional bus transport. I had almost never went from point A to point B in Russia on a bus (except my home region, but that does not count, because it's only two hours, and a trip from Naberezhnye Chelny to Dyurtuli in 2010). Now I feel safe and comfortable to visit the remaining places in the neighbouring regions.

I bought a bus ticket from the website Biletnaavto (693 Roubles), and booked hotel Druzhba in Pushkinskiye Gory by telephone for roughly 25 Euros (1000 Roubles). I have studied the website of Pushkinogorsky Museum and chose to see at least two homesteads related to our great poet. This time I felt surprisingly good during the whole 16 hours of bus journey both ways, maybe because the bus was good (the road could be smoother in places), or may be because of some elation. I bought the return bus ticket at Petrovskiye Gory station for 610 roubles (they demand the passport if a person is crossing the borders of at least two regions).

Little did I know that the homesteads were about 8-10 kilometers away from the hotel, but my initial plan was to check in at the hotel and read a book in the room and do all the three homesteads in three hours in the morning, but upon arrival to P.Gory I found out the map scale was too small, and there was even a considerable walk from the bus station to the hotel. I checked in and rushed to the bus station where I had seen several taxis. While walking to the hotel (of course, I at first took a wrong road) I saw a lot of apple trees everywhere and the Cultural and Scientific Centre situated on a vast square.

The village several centuries back was gifted by Queen Elizaveta to Pushkin’s great-grandfather, then it was owned by his grandfather, and finally his mother. He himself owned it for too short a time, because he died in 1837. Pushkin lived there during his exile, and also visited the estate in 1826, 1827, 1835, and 1836. In Russia, it is considered a cultural object of federal importance.

The taxi to Mikhailovskoye cost 170 roubles. I found myself at Mikhailovskoye homestead, came to the museum house, bought a ticket, and went inside. There were not many furniture items in the rooms, and several women were beginning to mop the floors. I wanted to take photos, no sooner had I took out my camera than a woman said it was prohibited, so I just glanced through the rooms and went outside. I never like to see a place without taking its photos, though it may seem weird. The atmosphere of the park is admirable, it is so deadly quiet. No wonder many creative persons found their inspiration in such secluded places. The gardens surrounding the homestead are also full with apples. It is a perfect place to experience Russian countryside, I will even add, at its best.

At the back of the homestead there are two lakes, and one can actually picture the great poet walking there during the day, morning, or evening and night, breathing inspiration in, and then sitting in his quiet room writing a poem. This entry should be read together with the one about Staraya Russa where Dostoevsky lived. I will perhaps be planning to visit several more homesteads dedicated to Russian writers.

As I walked the path towards a lake, I met a group of persons and one of them asked me, whether the visit was worth it. I said the homestead was not richly furnished, but of course the visit was worth it. The man simply thanked me, that was all he needed to hear. Then I crossed the meadow to a small wooden mill on the bank of a water body. Deep in the park was an undoubtedly modern statue of Alexander Pushkin lying below the trees and looking rather funny and lean. Modern art, that is. I enjoyed the sight of apple trees, though not quite ripe yet, flowerbeds, a wooden bridge across a rivulet, and headed towards the exit. I decided to take a taxi, if there was one, and if no – I'd simply walk the 7-8 kilometers because my evening was totally free. I devoured the hamburger I had in my rucksack, drank half a bottle of water, and marched quickly back to the village. Surprisingly, I did not find it too difficult and my legs did not hurt so much. Maybe, the strength was due to my recent taking-up of 'body-building' - I've bought a fitness club membership (a swimming pool, a sauna, and a long list of other options included!) for a year and now am learning to handle weights, muscles, and dumbbells. However, I was a little tired at finally reaching the hotel, still having to pass on farther to the supermarket. On the way, I also saw a small ‘park’ for children with interesting wooden sculptures featuring some strange creatures, a monument to the poet, and visited the cathedral with the poet’s family grave. In the evening I watched TV and read an English translation of Russian fairy tales.

22 August

I woke up at 9, and checked out at 10. I went to the bus station, and, to my luck, found a sole taxi waiting there. It cost 200 roubles to Trigorskoye so I’d have another nice 9 kilometers to walk back. The driver, acting as a guide, told me everything in short about the buildings we saw along the road, and about its accommodations and ‘cottages with billiards'. He thought it a good idea to stay in the place for a week, I said I had only 24 hours available this time.

Trigorskoye was owned by Pushkin’s friends, the pomeschiks Osipov-Wulf. The name ‘Trigorskoye’ means ‘standing on three hills’ (tri = three, gora = a hill). Pushkin used to visit Trigorskoye almost every day during his exile to Mikhailovskoye (I believe he could easily stroll there within a day, or much faster if on horseback).

This time I chose not to enter the homestead, because of the probable photography prohibition, but simply walked in the park. Now, it can be affirmed that the area might not the best Russian landscape, but as such, it deserves a visit, especially if you like the poet's works. I enjoyed beautiful views from the hills. Sometimes people say some Russian landscapes, especially from a train window, are annoyingly dull and identical, but that’s geology, not the government’s fault. I think Pushkinskiye Gory and the homesteads are immensely beautiful in autumn, with the colourful leaves enlivening the terrain. Unfortunately, I wrote no poems there…

I walked on wet grass to a wooden church, rising and ascending two hills, then repaired to the park. I saw the bathhouse and a sundial where a metal rod serves as the pointer and flowerbeds mark the time. A glance at my mobile phone clock convinced me of an urgent departure - the walk would not be easy, and the bus had to be caught. I allowed about an hour and a half to reach the village, and hurried up, surprising myself with the quickness - the road signs showing the kilometers almost flashed one after the other before me, and I reached one turn, then the other, cutting the distance between me and the bus in no time and managing to arrive almost an hour in advance. Again, lots of apple trees bent their richly apple-d boughs along the road.

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