June 01, 1999

Pushkin's Estates

Although Alexander Pushkin, that most cosmopolitan of poets, never traveled beyond the bounds of the Russian empire, he managed to visit a considerable number of places within that vast territory: Kishinev, Odessa, the Crimea, the Caucasus. Even in the central part of Russia, he traveled frequently, from St. Petersburg to Moscow (his native city) and beyond to his small estate of Boldino, in Nizhny Novgorod Province.

But of all the Pushkin sites, none is more lyrically evocative and biographically rich than the cluster of estates–Mikhailovskoe, Petrovskoe, Trigorskoe–located some 120 kilometers to the southeast of the ancient city of Pskov and collectively know as “Pushkin Hills.” Nearby is the Svyatogorsky Monastery, where Pushkin is buried. In this picturesque region of Pskov Province, pine forests and birch groves are interspersed by small lakes, fields, and gentle hills.

In the biography of Pushkin, the most important of these estates is Mikhailovskoe, which the poet’s famous great-grandfather, Abraham Petrovich Hannibal (Gannibal) received as part of a larger grant from Empress Elizabeth in 1742 for his services to her father, Peter the Great. After Abraham’s death, in 1781, the estate went to his son Osip, who built the main house and laid out a park. Following Osip’s death, in 1806, the house remained in the hands of his widow, Maria, and daughter, Nadezhda, who was Pushkin’s mother.

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