Muruzi House - Brodsky Museum
The Moorish-style Muruzi House was built by the architect Aleksey Serebriakov for Prince Alexander Muruza (belonging to an old dynasty, first mentioned in the Empire of Trebizond, his mother ended up in Russia in 1820s – her husband, and the father of Alexander, Dmitri Muruzi, was executed by the Turks for treason: during the war of 1806-1812 with Turkey, he was part of Turkish delegation, but secretly worked for Russia, passing on internal discussions, thus securing a beneficial outcome for the Russians; his widow moved to Russia after his death, where her family was granted land and money ) during the 1870s at a crossing of Pestelya Street and Liteiny Avenue. Both the general public and the critics were very favorably impressed with the building, with the influential architectural magazine Zodchi weighing in and calling for the building to be counted “among the prime palazzo in St. Petersburg”.
The facades of the building are decorated with bay windows and niches, further embellished with arches and half-columns, covered with arabesques and quotes from religious texts (the architect assistants went to Spain to copy the religious Moorish inscriptions). Over the years, many Petersburg luminaries rented apartments in the Muruzi building, among them the writer Nikolai Leskov and later, Dmitri Merezhkovski and Zinaida Gippius, who made the apartment a gathering-place for their symbolist circle during the yearly years of the twentieth century. The Muruzi building also received tender mention as the site of childhood in the reminiscences of Mstislav Dobuzhnsky, a Lithuanian-Russian artist famous for his drawings of St. Petersburg.
After the revolution, the writer Kornei Chuovski and others created a literary studio there, followed by a group of Silver Age poets associated with Nikolai Gumilev. The famous futurist Zamyatin and the foremost emblem of Russian Socialist Realism, Maxim Gorky, were frequent guests. Joseph Brodsky lived in the building for over twenty years, until he was forced to emigrate to the United States, and famously described life with his parents in their Muruzi “room and a half” in an essay by the same name.