Museum in Smolensk

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, illustrious artists and musicians, including Stravinsky, Chaliapin, Vrubel and Serov, visited Flyonovo, the pretty riverside estate of art lover Princess Maria Tenisheva, near Talashkino, 18km southeast of Smolensk. The visitors joined in applied-art workshops, which the princess organised for her peasants, and helped in building projects. The most striking result is the almost psychedelic decoration on the exterior of the brick Holy Spirit Church (Церковь Святого Духа), particularly the mural of Christ over the entrance designed by well-known landscape painter Rerikh.

On the estate grounds is the ornately decorative wooden house Teremok, with its folk-art museum, while the interior of another large but simpler wooden building is the former arts school. The first headmaster of the school was SV Malutin, the inventor of the beloved matryoshka doll. A smaller building (admission R80) sells crafts still produced here.

Take marshrutka 104 from Smolensk’s bus station to Talashkino (R28, 20 minutes), from where it’s a pleasant 2km walk to the estate. You can hop on the same marshrutka at pl Smirnova. The 130 often goes direct from Smolensk: ask at the station. It's possible to get a taxi from Smolensk for around R370 one-way and ask the driver to wait to return.