Bulgakov by bus
February 6, 2010
Back in 1921, Mikhail Bulgakov had just moved to Moscow from Kiev with a strong desire to become a writer - and now The Bulgakov House invites you to see Moscow from his point of view, as it was at that time.
The museum has begun running “tram” tours around Bulgakov's haunts, initially only in Russian but with English-language tours scheduled to start in February. What the museum calls a tram is actually a bus dressed up as a tram - since trams were the only public transportation available in Moscow in the 1920s. For the most dedicated Bulgakov fans there is even a special "Romantic Night Walk" - by bus in winter, but an actual walk in summer-time - taking place every Saturday night and including visits to all the main Bulgakov sights in the city.
The short "302-bis" bus tour starts from Triumfalnaya Ploshchad - the square with a monument of Bulgakov's enemy Mayakovsky in the centre - departing from outside the metro station named after Mayakovsky. On the tour you'll hear some curious facts about writers' polite and intelligent ways of feuding with each other, and find traces of their arguing in their writings.
When the bus takes you into the small side-streets of Tverskaya Ulitsa, you'll see the houses of Bulgakov's contemporaries - Alexei Tolstoy, in whose newspaper Bulgakov worked to make a living; writer Maxim Gorky; and theatre director, producer and actor Vsevolod Meyerhold, whose traits Bulgakov included in his works. You'll also see the house where Margarita supposedly lived, as well as the street where Berlioz's head was chopped off by “an ordinary Soviet woman”, as it says in the novel. The whole route is filled with both Soviet and mystic spirits: stories of communal living with alcoholic neighbors, about the city's neurotics, secret police, arrests, and mysterious disappearances of anti-Soviet writers and actors; you'll even hear the questions Bulgakov was asked by the NKVD after they read his Heart of a Dog, and the details of his phone conversation with Stalin.
After the tour, you'll be invited to the Bulgakov's House , where you'll see installations devoted to the author, but don't be mistaken - this is not the place where Bulgakov actually lived. For that, you'll have to go to the next entrance, where the apartment No. 50 is located. Also known as the Evil Apartment, this is where Bulgakov lived in poverty with his first wife, Tatyana, in a communal apartment along with constantly drinking neighbors. Bulgakov had his own way of fighting with them - he put them in his novels.
In any case, Bulgakov changed his address several times while living in Moscow, and few of his furnishings have remained - and as our guide said: "Most of the things here are of the same epoch, but the majority of Bulgakov's personal belongings are in his museum in Kiev which was opened 15 years before ours - in 1989."
Still, the Moscow of Bulgakov's epoch has somehow survived, hiding in the side-streets around Tverskaya and Patriarch's Ponds, and inviting you to explore its mysteries.
Russian-language tours run daily
at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm
adults 500 roubles,
students 300 roubles.