Institute of Philosophy
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

  History of the Golitsyn Estate
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History of the Golitsyn Estate

From the day of its foundation the Institute has been located in the former estate of Princes Golitsyn, the main building of which is a palace built in the 18th century and which survived during the fire of 1812. This residence as a recognized monument of architecture is under state protection. It witnessed many events in the history and culture of our country as well as the most important philosophical and scientific discussions of the last hundred years; in its records are preserved the names of outstanding Russian thinkers, scholars and public figures, writers and poets, composers and artists. From the end of the 19th century it was home to the Moscow Conservatory and the Szaniawski Moscow Public University, other educational institutions, and a number of academic institutes and public-service associations. The house on the Volkhonka 14 has become an integral part of intellectual culture of Moscow and a unique symbol of the Russian philosophy.




In 1775, the Golistyn palace on the Volkhonka was converted into a residence of Catherine II for the time of the empress’s stay in Moscow. The enlightened sovereign maintained an active correspondence with the great philosophers of her time, Voltaire and Diderot, and in her conduct of state affairs sought to conform to the ideal of a “philosopher on the throne”.


Poet, thinker, publisher and essayist, the “ardent warrior of Slavophilism”, the former head of the Moscow Slavic Committee and the Amateur Society for Russian Letters I.S. Aksakov died in the house on Volkhonka 14 at his desk, while editing another issue of the Rus journal, on January 27, 1886.



In 1834 the house on Volkhonka was visited by the young A.I. Herzen when summoned to the Curator of the Moscow Educational District, Prince S.M. Golitsyn. In defence of his anti-serfdom convictions Herzen, among other things, told the prince that Catherine II, who is commemorated on the walls of this building, had “ordered her subjects not to be called slaves”.



In the mid-1880s I.S. Aksakov’s rooms were frequented by the eminent Russian philosopher V.S. Soloviev, who wrote for the Rus journal and participated in the philosophical discussions in the House on Volkhonka.



During the 1880s the Volkhonka house simultaneously provided lodging for the leading representatives of the two most influential currents in the Russian social and philosophical thought of that period, Slavophilism and Westernisation: B.N. Chicherin and I.S. Aksakov. The years he spent on the Volkhonka proved to be particularly fruitful for B.N. Chicherin as a scholar and public figure: it is during that period that he was elected to the position of the head of the city of Moscow, composed the book on Property and the State and continued to work on his magnum opus, the multi-volume History of Political Doctrines.



In the 1920s the flat 9 of the House on Volkhonka housed B.L. Pasternak. In his younger years the future great poet was seriously engaged in philosophical studies: he was a student at the Philosophy Department of the Moscow University and in 1912 travelled to Germany to study with professor Hermann Cohen, the leader of the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism. Remarkably, it was his philosophical studies in Marburg that helped Pasternak to recognize his poetic vocation. Pasternak’s case gives us graphic evidence how fruitful can be the complementary interaction of the two ways of comprehending the world – the scientific and philosophical one, on the one hand, and the artistic and creative, on the other.