In Yasnaya Polyana

Lev Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana Museum-Estate

The estate of Yasnaya Polyana is the place most connected with the great Russian author Lev Tolstoy who was born here, wrote most of his work here, died here and is buried here. It is of course an essential place to visit for fans of Tolstoy, but even if you are not it is worth visiting just to see the estate's beautiful natural surroundings and to learn about the giant of Russian literature and about life on a 19th century estate in general.

The estate, whose name can be translated as "Clear Meadows", first became owned by Tolstoy's family in the late 18th century when Tolstoy's maternal grandfather Prince Nikolai Volkonsky purchased it and created formal French and English gardens here. The estate then passed to Volkonsky's daughter Maria whose husband Nikolai Tolstoy built here a new estate house.

Lev Tolstoy was born at the estate in 1828 and he inherited it when his parents died while he was still a child. He moved to the estate in 1856 after he finished his military service and lived here for the rest of his life although he often spent winters at his estate in Moscow. In 1910 Tolstoy left his estate for the last time, knowing he would never return. He died shortly afterwards and his body was brought back to Yasnaya Polyana where it laid in state before being buried in a simple grave on the grounds of the estate.

In 1919 the estate was protected by the state and became a museum, with Tolstoy's youngest daughter becoming the first director. During the Second World War, the museum was occupied by Nazi troops who used it as a hospital, although luckily the contents of the estate had already been evacuated to Tomsk for protection. Today the estate remains a museum and is preserved as it looked in 1910 when Tolstoy left Yasnaya Polyana for the final time.

Minibuses to Yasnaya Polyana run rather frequently from the beginning of Tula's Ulitsa Sovetskaya at the Ulitsa Mosina bus stop. More detailed information on how to get there can be found on our Day Trip section. At the estate you can buy tickets either for just walking around the grounds or for an excursion around the estates two museums: the Lev Tolstoy House Museum and the Kuzminsky Wing.


Preshpekt Alley

One of the prominent features of the estate is the birch tree lined alley which runs from the entrance between the Large and Small Ponds up to Tolstoy's House, passing the Lower and Upper Gardens and the Orchard. The name comes from an old alternative word for prospekt.


Lev Tolstoy House Memorial Museum

The main building on the estate is known as the Tolstoy House, although it is actually just a wing of the main estate building which was built by Tolstoy's father. Tolstoy was forced to sell the main house to raise funds and it was demolished and rebuilt in a new location, although it no longer stands today. Tolstoy's family therefore lived in the wing which is now the Tolstoy House Museum. The house has been preserved as it looked when Tolstoy left the estate in 1910. In summer you can only visit as part of an excursion which is held in Russian but there are audio-guides in other languages. In winter, when it is less busy, it is permitted to look around the buildings by yourselves. By visiting you will see the large dining room where Tolstoy entertained many famous guest, Tolstoy's study with the desk where he wrote and the divan on which he and his children were born, Tolstoy's bedroom and the guest room where Tolstoy's body laid in state. The last excursion around the house is at 15:30 (16:30 on weekends in summer) and this museum is also closed on the last Tuesday of the month.


Kuzminsky Wing

The building known as the Kuzminsky Wing was originally the western wing of the main estate house. It became known as the Kuzminsky Wing as the Kuzminsky family (in-laws of Tolstoy) lived there. Previously the building was also used for the school for peasant children which Tolstoy set up in 1859. Today the Kuzminsky Wing holds a museum detailing the life and work of Tolstoy and can be visited as part of an excursion to the estate's museums. The last excursion around the house is at 15:30 (16:30 on weekends in summer) and this museum is also closed on the last Wednesday of the month.


Volkhonsky House

The third main structure on the estate is the Volkhonsky House which is the oldest surviving building, having been built as the residence for Tolstoy's grandfather Prince Nikolai Volkhonsky. During Tolstoy's time the house became the home for the estate's servants. Today it is used for the needs of the estate-museum.

Located around the house are a stables and various huts and barns which were once used by peasants for the running of the estate.


Tolstoy's Grave

You cannot leave Yasnaya Polyana without visiting Tolstoy's grave which is located in the west of the estate in a clearing which was named by Tolstoy and his brother as the 'Place of the Green Wand'. The two brothers believed that somewhere around this area there was a green wand on which the secrets of happiness and immortality were written. Despite searching though they never found it. In accordance with Tolstoy's wishes his grave is very simple with no headstone so that it just resembles a green mound.