St. Petersburg is a literary city. The Golden and Silver Ages of Russian literature fall during St. Petersburg’s tenure as the capital city of Russia (1712-1918), inevitably intertwining the lives and works of Russian writers with the city itself.
Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia’s greatest poets and one of those responsible for the impression of St. Petersburg to the rest of the world, lived in the city almost his entire life. Nikolai Gogol lived in St. Petersburg and wrote a series of Petersburg novels. Fyodor Dostoevsky saw and wrote about a special St. Petersburg with great accuracy — you can still walk through the city using his writings as a map. St. Petersburg was the cradle of the Silver Age of Russian Culture. Gumilev, Akhmatova, and Blok are among some of the city’s most prolific and recognizable poets. Before emigrating to America during the Soviet period, Sergei Dovlatov and future Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky wrote in St. Petersburg (called Leningrad at the time).
The lives and fates of St. Petersburg’s writers are preserved in its memory. The house-museums of Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Akhmatova and the famous places present in their works still stand to this day. The archetypal images of St. Petersburg crafted through their writing, like Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman or Dostoevsky’s white nights, inexorably link their stories with the story of St. Petersburg.
Below is a small selection of destinations that will uncover the “literary” side of Russia’s second capital.