St. Petersburg

Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg

06 Apr 2018

You seldom come across places that have so many gloomy, harsh and strange influences on the soul of man as there are in St. Petersburg. The mere influences of climate means so much. And it’s the administrative centre of all Russia so its character must be reflected on the whole country.’

Despite the fact that the tour of ‘Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg’ is mostly attended by lovers of the writer’s work, students and teachers, it is interesting for a wide range of people, even those who know little of Russian literature. After all, the program takes you to houses in which Dostoevsky and his characters lived, as well as ancient temples, former brothels, beer halls, famous shopping streets and beautiful squares. Along with the entertaining descriptions and stories given by the tour guide, you will discover a vivid picture of middle-class life in St. Petersburg in the 19th century.

The city offers a large number of different Dostoevsky tours, varying in focus, length and format of the tour. The main thing to consider is to choose the tour that’s right for you. After looking at different programs available on tour agency websites, we’ve opted for a four-hour walking tour, which we believe is the most comprehensive, covering several areas of the city, including the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, where Dostoevsky is buried. As well as that, we feel that a walking tour allows you to gain a better sense of the how the characters lived in the writer’s imagination. If the weather is clear and sunny, is there really a better option?

The tour begins on Rimsky-Korsakov Avenue (which was known as Ekateringofsky during Dostoevsky’s time). We met with the guide in the lobby of the four-star Ambassador Hotel, on pr. Rimskogo-Korsakova 5. We went directly to house number 3 where the writer once lived. Set in a courtyard typical of St. Petersburg, the house, particularly in contrast with the hotel, looked especially dull.
After looking at the sacred window on the third floor, we continued. The main districts of Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ are considered to be between Sennaya pl. (Haymarket Square) and the Griboedov Canal and the area around Vladimirskaya pl. (Vladimir Square).
As we crossed to the other side of the canal, an elderly man, who as it turned out, was a neighbour of the people who currently live in Dostoevsky’s apartment, approached us. Upon hearing that we were talking about Dostoevsky, the elderly man made a clarification, as if knowing our guide would not have told us. He explained that in fact, Dostoevsky lived in another house, but this one was built in its place. A
line from Crime and Punishment came to mind, “With a sinking heart and a nervous tremor, he went up to a huge house which on one side looked on to the canal, and on the other into the street”.

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