Artists colony and country estate, Abramtsevo was a font of artistic inspiration for the renaissance of traditional Russian painting, sculpture and architecture.
In 1870 Savva Mamontov - railway tycoon and patron of the arts - bought this lovely estate 45km north of Moscow. Here, he hosted a whole slew of painters, who sought inspiration in the gardens and forests: Ilya Repin; landscape artist Isaak Levitan; portraitist Valentin Serov; and the quite un-Slavic painter and ceramicist Mikhail Vrubel. Other artists came to dabble at the woodworking and ceramics' workshop, and musicians (including Fyodor Chaliapin, who made his debut here) performed in the private opera.
Today the Abramtsevo Estate Museum- Preserve (
Several rooms of the main house have been preserved intact, complete with artwork by various resident artists. The main attraction is Mamontov's dining room, featuring Repin's portraits of the patron and his wife, and Serov's luminous Girl with Peaches. A striking majolica bench by Vrubel is in the garden.
The prettiest building in the grounds is Saviour Church'Not Made by Hand' (Tserkov Spasa Nerukotvorny). The structure epitomises Mamontov's intentions: it's a carefully researched homage by half a dozen artists to 14th-century Novgorod architecture. The iconostasis is by Repin and Vasily Polenov. The tiled stove in the corner, still working, is exquisite.
The Slavophile painter Viktor Vasnetsov conjured up the fairy tale of Baba Yaga the witch, with his rendition of her Hut on Chicken Legs.
Abramtsevo destination guides
Classic Russia & Ukraine
Discover the hidden secrets, spectacular landscapes and intriguing imperial tales of Russia and Ukraine on this unique journey through the region’s highlights and backroads. Walk in the footsteps of literary greats in staggering St Petersburg, be astounded by the opulent former palaces of the Tsars and behold magical St. Basil’s Cathedral by night.