Yasnaya Polyana

Top choice in Western European Russia

This late 19th-century estate is where Leo Tolstoy wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina, as well being the place he was born, lived most of his life and is buried. A long birch-lined avenue leads from the entrance to the whitewashed, modestly proportioned Tolstoy House, where the great writer lived and worked. The rooms have been kept just as they were at the time of his death in 1910, with his writing desk and the bizarre child-sized chair he worked in, as well as books and furniture.

You need to join a guided tour to enter the house. Tours are in Russian and there are no English captions in the house, but it will allow you to take a look at the displays. For an English-language guided visit to the estate and surrounds, contact Yasnaya Polyana Tour Office in Tula (R5000 for up to 10 people, R5500 on weekends).

On the estate grounds close to Tolstoy House is the Kuzminsky House, an imaginatively designed exhibition covering Tolstoy's inspirations from 1851 to 1869, when he finished War and Peace. A short walk into the estate’s shady forest is Tolstoy’s grave. The actual grave is unmarked – as per the author's request though signs point the way (in English).

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