One of St. Petersburg’s most Iconic Buildings
This very iconic building graces the St. Petersburg landscape with it’s beautiful Moorish style architecture. This very ornate apartment building was designed by Architect Alexey Serebryakov who was hired by Prince Alexander Muruzi, the wealthy scion of a family of Phanariote Greeks prominent in Moldavia. The inspiration for this building came from the Alhambra in Granada. The facades were elaborately decorated with corner towers, bay windows, alcoves, balconies, terracotta columns, arabesques, and Arabic script.
One of the Richest Apartments in St. Petersburg
It was the richest apartment building in Petersburg at it’s time during the mid 1800’s to the beginning of the 1900’s. Today the Muruzi House today cannot boast the opulent interiors it once did with it’s internal staircase made of white Carrara marble that led to the second floor to a hall that resembled a Moorish palace courtyard. The hall’s arches were built on 24 thin marble columns and a fountain stood in the middle. The house had five grand staircases, water heating, steam laundry, and 28 bathrooms. It was the richest apartment building in Petersburg, along with many members of nobility it became most famous for its myriad connections to Russian literature.
The Prince’s apartments housed the literary studio of the Vsemirnaya Literatura (“World Literature”) publishing house in 1919. Supported by Maksim Gorky, this short-lived educational project, boasted an amazing range of literary talent amongst its teachers and students : The leading acmeist poet Nikolay Gumilev headed the poetry course, while Yevgeny Zamyatin, author of the seminal dystopian novel We taught prose. Gorky also gave lectures, and Alexander Blok readings of his verse. Among the students was the much-loved Leningrad satirist Mikhail Zoshchenko.
Russian-American Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky
The Muruzi House’s most celebrated literary connection, however, was as the family home (in one large room, or “room-and-a-half”, of a communal apartment) of the Russian-American Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. Brodsky’s mother and father, his mother being a professional interpreter and father a naval photographer, moved into the building in 1949. Brodsky was nine years old at the time he remained there until he was exiled from the USSR in 1972. Efforts to establish a museum dedicated to Brodsky, one of St. Petersburg’s best-loved poets, in apartment No. 28 are almost completed after over a decade of difficulties.
Writer Dmitry Merezhkovskiy
and Poet Zinaida Gippius
Among the building’s earliest tenants, the great satirical writer Nikolay Leskov lodged in a small two-bedroom apartment in 1879. In 1889, the famous literary couple of philosopher and writer Dmitry Merezhkovskiy and poet Zinaida Gippius moved into the building, and they lived here for almost a quarter of a century, counting many other prominent literary figures of the day among their guests.
Russian Literature houses some of the finest writers and poets in the world. It will be from here that I would like to begin introducing them. It is my hopes to read many of their great works, research them, share my thoughts, opinions and research findings. Please join in this journey, if you have a favorite let me know. If you have read or written articles about them I’d more than welcome guest posts.