Last week's walk explored Pushkin's childhood haunts in the countryside near Moscow. This week returns to the city where the famous writer was born and married. On the way, we will pass several other writers and pass some interesting buildings on the way. 1. Really dedicated fans can start by visiting Pushkin's birthplace near Baumanskaya Metro. Although the house has been demolished there is a bust of the young Pushkin in front of the school that now stands in its place. If this seems too tenuous to merit a detour, skip to number two and start there instead. If you do persevere, however, you will find the trip out to Baumanskaya is not without its rewards. The area, once known as the "German suburb", has an elegance that is rare outside the Garden Ring and although the house where the poet was born has not survived there are plenty of empire style buildings that have. The 1940s metro station is also worth a look, with its mosaics and sculptures. To reach the memorial, you turn left onto Baumanskaya Ulitsa and go as far as number 40. Nearby, there are several cafes and a delightful weekend market. Round the corner in the other direction, also on Bakuninskaya Ulitsa, is the Epiphany Cathedral where Pushkin was christened.
2. Take the Metro four stops to Smolenskaya, and from here, turn right and then left onto Ulitsa Arbat, also known as Stary (old) Arbat. In Pushkin's day this famous road was a cobbled street lined with churches and bell towers. The wooden houses which had been there since medieval times were destroyed by fire in 1812, and the blue and white mansion at number 53, on the upper floor of which Pushkin spent a happy first three months of married life, is typical of the 19th century buildings which replaced them. The ground floor of the museum here includes a series of engravings showing the city as it would have looked in Pushkin's childhood and how it had changed when he returned from school and exile in 1826.
3. Leaving the museum and continuing down Arbat, turn right down Plotnikov Pereulok ("Carpenters' Lane"), just before Moo Moo Res taurant with its trademark cow, passing the monument to the guitar poet, Bulat Okudzhava, who wrote the song which includes the famous words: "Arbat, my Arbat..." Go straight on until, on the corner with Mali Mogiltsovsky Pereulok, there is a 1907 building which once housed a classy brothel, decorated with fantastic crumbling reliefs of amorous Russian authors, Pushkin among them. Turn left in front of this house and at the end of this little lane wiggle right and then left into Prechistensky Pereulok once known as "Dead Lane," passing the run-down Assumption Church, said to be the one Natasha attends in War and Peace.
4. As you continue you pass a series of interesting houses: the house where the novelist Ostrovsky lived, opposite the Danish embassy, then a series of Art Nouveau Mansions at numbers six to ten (the Austrian embassy). These lovely houses were built by the same company to be showcases for the Style Moderne, as influenced by the English, French and neo-classical traditions, respectively. Don't miss the dilapidated house of Vera Mukhina, creator of the iconic "Worker and Peasant," at 5a, hidden in a courtyard on the other side of the road behind an apple tree overgrown with hops; further down the road a statue commemorates the sculptor. At the junction with Ulitsa Prechistenka you can see the Tolstoy Museum across the road. Turning left past the "House of Scientists" onto this spectacular road, you soon come to the Pushkin Literary Museum, housed in a large mansion on the corner with Khrushevsky Pereulok where the entrance is located. This comprehensive storehouse of Pushkinalia, well worth the modest fee, includes exhibitions on each of Pushkin's major works, plus much-amended manuscript pages complete with trademark doodles and sketches. The museum also charts the poet's life through to its untimely end. A dramatic painting upstairs reconstructs the scene of the controversial duel, complete with dying poet and fur-lined troika.
5. Going down Prechistenka towards the huge gold dome of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, turn left on Gogolevsky Bulvar. You will find a statue of Gogol, and a new memorial to Sholokhov, author of Quiet Flows the Don. From this point, you can either walk through Moscow's longest park - lovely apart from the awkward road junctions - or cut across the narrow park and catch any Trolleybus towards Tverskaya. Look left as you pass through the second junction, Nikitskie Vorota, to see the imposing yellow Church of the Grand Ascension. This is where Pushkin married the nineteen-year-old Natalia Goncharova and a famously sentimental statue of the couple stands under the gold canopy of the Rotunda fountain in front of the church. If you can, have a look inside at the wonderfully restored ceilings (in Pushkin's day, the church was not yet finished and he married in a side chapel). Make sure you also pop into the Gorky museum next door at Malaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa 6/2. It's free, and the house is fantastic, inside and out
6. Soon after this you pass another literary statue: the "peasant poet," Sergei Yesenin, five times married and plagued by alcoholism before his suicide at age 30, he strikes a debonair pose under the trees. A little further on, the Pushkin Theatre, a converted church, stands opposite the big, modern Gorky Moscow Art Theatre which is on the right. A hundred yards beyond this, is Café Pushkin. You could do worse than end your winding pilgrimage with a meal at this Moscow landmark, where (for a price) you can slip back into the 1820s, amid the stucco work and leather bound books. After this, it is only a few more steps to Pushkinskaya Metro, which also has echoes of the 19th century, despite being built in 1975. Bronze plaques on the walls quote and illustrate Pushkin's works. The memorial statue in the square above also quotes Pushkin in the inscription around the base, correctly predicting: "long will I be honored by the people."
By Phoebe Taplin
Start: Baumanskaya or Smolenskaya Metro (dark blue line)
End: Pushkinskaya Metro
Distance: about 5 km
Other info: Both museums are closed on Monday. Each one costs 60 rubles