Nothing compares to the beauty of Russian countryside, with its white birch groves, tall red pines, rainbow-colored flower meadows and sparkle of the Golden Autumn. No wonder, then, that odes to Russian Nature have been sung by many a writer, poet and artist.
And nothing encapsulates the classic Russian countryside quite like the Oka River valley in the Tula Region, about 150 kilometers south of Moscow. That is the spot that Vasily Polenov, one of the most famous and prolific Russian painters, chose for his country home and studio in the late 19th century.
Today the lovely estate – now called Polenovo, after the artist – is a museum. Think of it as a scaled down Russian Giverny (French home of Claude Monet, of the “Water Lilies” fame): beautiful countryside, perpetually blooming garden and a rustic house. You can visit the artist’s studio (which Polenov called “the Abbey”), see a collection of his original works and those by his famous peers and students (guided tours only), try your hand at traditional Russian crafts or check out many of the estate’s beautifully-preserved farm facilities.
But really, the best feature of the Polenovo estate is the Russian Nature around it. After all, that’s what brought Vasily Polenov here in the first place. If you want to see why a whole wing of the world-famous Tretyakov gallery is devoted to Russian landscape paintings, well, there’s no better place. I will let the photos do the talking.
A few words about logistics: Polenovo is a bit of a pain to get to without a car; on weekends there are about 8 trains per day, going to Tarusskaya Station (Pro tip: get the ‘long distance’ rail ticket at the window, not the suburban rail one from the machine. R400 each way). From Tarusskaya get a cab to the estate, it’s about a 10 minute ride (R500 will definitely get you there; if you’re good at haggling, R300 will do the trick); get the driver’s mobile number and call for a pick-up when you’re done. Bring your lunch with you, and pick up whatever else you might need at one of the two grocery stores by the Tarusskaya railway station; there is only one restaurant at Polenovo, the menu is limited and the service is not good. And don’t forget your bathing suit: you will ABSOLUTELY want to take a dip in the Oka!