Melikhovo – beloved estate of Russia’s best story-teller

If you are a fan of Anton Chekhov, take the chance to learn more about the great writer and how he lived by visiting his country house, which is located to the south of the capital.

It is here that Chekhov penned several of his most famous works that led to his becoming known as the master of the modern short story.

One of Russia’s most treasured storytellers, Anton Chekhov, called himself a Muscovite forever. Still, despite his love for the big city he had a long-standing dream – to have a country home of his own. And one day, it came true.

Born into a not-so-well-off family, Chekhov realized his ambition of being a landowner at the age of 32. He bought the estate of Melikhovo, some 50 kilometers south of Moscow, in 1892. For the next seven years it would be his home and an inspiration behind some of his most famous works.

By the time he acquired the property, Chekhov had long been the economic mainstay and unofficial head of his family, so he moved here together with his parents, sister and younger brother, and enthusiastically started to refurbish and develop the residence.

“My estate’s not much,” he wrote of his Melikhovo home. “But the surroundings are magnificent.” Here, he wrote more than 40 works, including his most celebrated plays “The Seagull” and “Uncle Vanya.”

Today the estate houses the Chekhov Museum, dedicated to the playwright and master of the modern short story.

The museum includes the mansion where the family lived, the kitchen building that Chekhov had constructed, and a guest house that he soon began to use for writing to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main house. When he was in, a flag was raised above it.

The museum houses more than 18,000 exhibits and personal items. Although the estate was all but destroyed in the early years of the Soviet Union, it was later rebuilt exactly as it had been during Chekhov’s time. Here, he became a keen gardener, very proud of his vegetables and flowers, and he would also spend hours fishing.

Rural life did not make Chekhov a recluse. At Melikhovo, he led a busy social life – the estate was always full of guests. A practising doctor, who famously described medicine as his wife and literature as his mistress, he saw patients from dozens of nearby villages, and also founded several schools in the area.

As Chekhov’s health deteriorated, in 1899, five years before he died of tuberculosis, the writer had to sell his estate to move to a warmer climate in Crimea.

Chekhov buffs should visit Melikhovo in May, when the museum hosts a week-long theatre festival. Theatre groups from all over the world descend on the village to perform their interpretations of the playwright’s work. Autumn, meanwhile, is perfect for long strolls. The museum offers special walking routes around the area.

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