Yasnaya Polyana is 200 km to the south of Moscow. It was just there that a great Russian writer Lev Tolstoy wrote his books, which gained worldwide acceptance. He was also buried in a very modest grave here.
In Russia many writers, poets and composers are widely known and loved by the people, but only three of them has the really worldwide fame: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky. That’s why almost every day tourists from different countries come on excursions to Yasnaya Polyana.
Yasnaya Polyana was acquired by the great grandfather of Tolstoy, Sergey Volkonsky in 1763. The family of Tolstoy were the owners of the estate until 1918. Generally, the origin of the name Yasnaya Polyana is derived either from the river Yasenka, or from the big ashes, which grew there, or from the big valley, which was always flooded with sunlight.
But in any case the landscape is very beautiful and you should come there not only to visit the literary museum but simply to have a rest in the open. When you enter the estate, you at once see the «Preshpect», a long birch alley, emphasizing the beauty of the Russian nature.
Lev Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana in 1828. He spent there a significant part of his life and was so fond of it that at the estate distribution among 4 brothers it was him who was given it in personal possession. Being an officer Tolstoy spent some time at the Caucasus and took part in the defense of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, but then he retired and traveled over Europe.
At the start of the 1860th Tolstoy came back to Yasnaya Polyana where he married Sophia Andreyevna Behrs. During the 60-70th he created his most famous works such as «War and Peace» and «Anna Karenina», which brought him worldwide fame. For all the following years Yasnaya Polyana became his permanent habitat. From there he often came to Moscow, as well as visited the Optyna Hermitage (Optina Pustyn) at least four times a year.
The life of the writer was well-arranged in Yasnaya Polyana, and it was preserved almost intact until nowadays. The three main buildings of Yasnaya Polyana are the Tolstoy House Museum, the Volkonsky House, and the Kuzminsky House.
You can visit these houses and see their interiors only with an excursion. Having come to Yasnaya Polyana you can buy one at the ticket office near the entrance (you must do it). The excursion will include the Kuzminsky House where a school for peasant children was opened and now it houses the Tolstoy Literary Museum, and the Tolstoy House Museum where there were retained the original interiors of the rooms.
You should say a separate word about the grave of Lev Tolstoy, as well as the events preceding his death. As is known, by the end of his life Tolstoy became quite disappointed in his «useless life» and thought it absolutely wrong. His relationships with his wife and children deteriorated, as he wanted to reject the copyright of his earlier works and thus deprive his big family of the only income.
At the very beginning of 20th century, after the issue of his novel «Resurrection», Tolstoy`s relationships with the Orthodox Church were aggravated. He renunciated the authority of the Church and harshly criticized the church doctrines and suggested his own rules. As a result, he was cursed in 1901.
That’s why there is no cross on the grave of Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana. It is in the forest, rather far from all the buildings of the estate. Although the grave of Tolstoy is indicated on the map, when approaching the site you cannot see it at once. Very modest grave is planted with green grass and when you stand near it you begin to perceive the value of the simplicity that the great writer aspired to.