Leo Tolstoy’s home in Moscow


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sophia, (Repin 1907)

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (know as Leo Tolstoy) was born into Russian aristocracy in 1828.  He became one of the world’s most famous authors, with novels such as ‘War and Peace’, ‘Anna Karenina’ , the semi-autobiographical trilogy ‘Childhood’, ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Youth’, also ‘Sevastopol Sketches’, based on his experiences in the Crimean War.   In the 1870’s, he  experienced a spiritual awakening, resulting in his becoming a pacifist . He also took up many humanitarian issues related to common people.  His writings continued, including dozens of short stories and novellas.    His ideas on nonviolent resistance, in such works as ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’, had an impact on  influential 20th century figures including  Mahatma Gandi and Martin Luther King.

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St Petersburg on foot



Sapsan at Leningrad Station in Moscow

Our visit to St Petersburg started in Moscow, where we boarded the Sapsan  for our  trip northwest. The name Sapsan is derived from the fastest bird in the falcon family, and with a top speed of 250km it took us less than four hours to cover the approximately 700km.  With modern comforts such as internet available, and plenty to watch out the window, the time went quickly.

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Fabergé Museum in St Petersburg

The Fabergé Museum is a must for all  Romanov art and history lovers.  Central to the museum is a collection of precious Fabergé objects that oligarch Viktor Vekselberg bought in 2004 for $US100 million.  He bought them from the estate of Malcolm Forbes, the US publisher of Forbes magazine.

In 2013 the Fabergé Museum was opened in the 18th century Shuvalov Palace, which had been used for welcoming international delegations in Soviet days.

Blue Room

The Blue Room contains nine of the 50 Imperial Easter eggs, created by court jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé.  The tradition started in 1885 when Tsar Alexander 3rd gave his wife a richly jewelled egg for Easter.  Each egg took about a year to make, and was personally delivered by Fabergé.  The tradition continued with Tsar Nicholas 2nd  also ordering  bejewelled eggs for family members.

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Glimpses of Moscow in late autumn

In November 2018 I was in Moscow, as it turned from autumn into winter.  There were periods of sunshine but it was mostly cloudy and the daytime temperature hovered around 0 degrees (centigrade).  The days were short (sunrise around 8.15am  and sunset around 4.15pm ) however that was sufficent time to investigate central Moscow by foot, visiting many points of interest with a Muscovite friend.

Moscow is a mix of old and new.  During the Second World War, although the Germans beseiged Moscow for six months, they never entered the city, and the Russian airforce was able to keep the German planes from attacking.  Much of the old architecture has survived.  The biggest destroyer was Stalin. But religious buildings have now been restored.  There are four main types of architecture – pre Soviet Union (the days of the Tsars), Stalinist, Brezhnev (stark functionality, not shown in this post), and modernist.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow

The original church on this site was built in the 19th century, but was destroyed in 1931 by order of Stalin.  The current church was built between 1995 and 2000.  It is the tallest Russian Orthodox church in the world at 103 metres.  It was a great experience to look up through the large and very ornate central dome (no photograghy allowed inside).

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