I love discovering new bookish travel destinations, and the Cafe Pushkin has raced to the top of my “must-see” list the next time I visit Moscow. The Café Pushkin is one of the most famous and highly regarded restaurants in Moscow. Its library floor is the place to see and be seen. If you plan to dine there, make reservations early, dress accordingly and bring your charge card.
The building housing the Café Pushkin has a long and storied history, but the restaurant opened on June 4, 1999.
In the 1780s, a St. Petersburg nobleman in the service of Empress Catherine the Great retired from the Royal Household and moved to Moscow. Once there, he decided to build a house and hired the best Italian architects to create a fabulous baronial Baroque mansion a la russe.
The house passed to a German aristocrat in the middle of the 19th century as part of his future wife’s dowry. Financial ruin forced the new owner to open a pharmacy in the building. As a result, the building was redesigned to inlcude :
- A pharmacy situated on the ground floor. The pharmacy counter was lined with various phials containing medicines and potions.
- A library full of reference books installed on the upper and mezzanine floors.
The extensive library, with more than three thousand volumes, is the biggest draw for guests. Most of the books in the collection range from the 18th Century to the 20th Century.
Multinational authors are represented in the collection. Pushkin, Gogol, Belinsky, Turgenev, Saltykov-Shchedrin, Leskov, Tolstoy, Fet, Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Chekhov, and Dostoevsky are some of the Russian authors featured.
There are many English books (Shakespeare, Dickens, Scott, Moore, Burns), works in French ((Rousseau, Diderot, Maupassant, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Abat Prevost) and Italian (Dante, Petrarch) and German (Goethe, Heine Schiller, Hegel).
The Holy Bible is represented in many languages, as is the Holy Koran. There is a huge collection of reference works, including historical works, the Brockhaus and Efron encyclopaedias, and works on military history, medicine, mineralogy. The major literary, scientific and political periodicals are well represented.
Update: I wrote to the Café Pushkin, and they’ve kindly responded to my questions.
Can guests browse the library or read any of the books when they dine at the Café Pushkin?
Of course, our guests can browse the Library and choose any of the books for reading.
With regard to the Café Pushkin images, did you hold a ballet special event, and what was the story of the ballet?
These photos were inspired by the story about Alexander Pushkin and Natalya Goncharova.
The famous dancing master Jogel, who taught dance to the children of Moscow and St Petersburg’s nobility for many years, hosted children’s balls at the house of the Kologrivov family, which stood where the Moscow Gorky Arts Theatre now stands. It was at one such ball that Pushkin met his future wife, Natalya Goncharova.
The dancer on these photos is the Bolshoi theatre’s first soloist Maria Semenyachenko.