One beautiful Saturday afternoon two friends and I decided to make the best out of the sunny and warm weather. Limited by the fact that we hadn’t gotten our passports back (which you need for travelling in Russia) we had to pick a place that was easy to reach (=no trains) and not too far away from Moscow. After doing some research we decided to visit Gorki Leninskiye.
Gorki Leninskiye is an ‘urban locality’ with around 3.5K inhabitants, which is located 10 kilometres south of Moscow city limits. The place is ‘famous’ for being Lenin’s home where he spent his last years.
After a rather adventurous bus trip which lead us into the seemingly nowhere – the bus stop wasn’t even a real stop but the driver just let us off on a rather busy road – we finally arrived at the estate and its beautiful park. We had to pay a small entrance fee (200 Rubles for students) because we also wanted to have a look at the museums there.
Before Lenin’s takeover the estate of Gorki belonged to various Moscovite noblemen from the 18th century. A wealthy widow purchased it in 1909 and had the mansion remodeled in the Neoclassical style. She turned the estate into the grand building that it is now, added luxurious furniture and paintings. After the October Revolution the estate was nationalized by the Bolsheviks. After an assassination attempt followed by a decline in health, Lenin was advised to find a place where he could rest. The estate was chosen due to its proximity to Moscow and and existing telephone in the house, so it was turned into Lenin’s dacha (a seasonal or year-round second home, very typical for Russia). The estate became his permanent home in 1923 until he died on January 21 in 1924. Straight after Lenin’s death people started to go on a pilgrimage to his estate, which lead to the decision to turn the estate into a museum in 1938 (which actually only opened in 1949). The estate was renamed into ‘Gorki Leninskiye‘ (previous Wyschnije Gorki). Additional museums such as the ‘Cabinet and apartment of Lenin in the Kremlin’ have been added since.
Unfortunately we were only able to enter the museums by taking part in a guided tour which was held in Russian. My Russian is nowhere near as good as being able to understand a fast talking Russian lady telling stories about Lenin and the history of the estate so I only understood bits and pieces of it. However, my friend Monika is Bulgarian and she studied Russian for some time so she understood quite a bit and tried to translate the most important things that were talked about.
Before Lenin moved into the estate he gave orders not to change anything in there as he did not see his stay there as a permanent but only a temporary one.
The second museum that we visited was the ‘Cabinet and the apartment Lenin in the Kremlin‘. This exhibition (this house more or less) used to be in Moscow but was transferred to Gorki Leninskiye in 1994. It shows almost the entire complex of buildings associated with the activity of Lenin – the office, an extensive library, conference room etc. The exhibition tries to recreate the atmosphere in which some of Russia’s major political figures have lived and worked.
The estate and the surrounding park were beautiful, and the museums were really interesting to look at (especially when you’re interested in Russian history). Even though we did not really get all what the women were telling us about, we still enjoyed it there. The stroll in the autumnally park with the sunset was definitely worth the longish busride :)