Seven buildings claiming the title of “House of Bulgakov Margaret”: Gothic mansion in a quiet alley
Many fans of the novel “The Master and Margarita” have been arguing for years about which of the Moscow mansions could become the prototype of the main character’s house. It would seem to find it easy. From the novel it follows that this is a Gothic mansion, located near the Arbat, in the alleys, and having a beautiful garden with a metal lattice fence. Bulgakov notes that Margaret occupied in the house “all five rooms of the upper floor”, and there were two floors. There is also a mention of a three-leaved window drawn by a curtain. However, things are not so simple …
There are apparently no buildings in Moscow that fully meet all these parameters (otherwise there would have been no such heated debates), however, the author didn’t have to describe a particular house in the novel exactly. Perhaps he imagined some real building and added more characteristic details to this picture. But what kind of mansion could still be the prototype of the house of Margarita? Fans of the famous novel put forward completely different versions, and at the moment there are several candidate buildings.
1. House in Maly Vlasyevsky
This building, although made in the modernist style, has many interesting architectural elements, it is not very similar to the “Gothic mansion” mentioned in the novel. However, it has several characteristic details – it is located in a lane near Arbat, it has a garden and a metal fence, which, by the way, has been preserved in its original form. The famous flight of Margarita, described by Bulgakov, also speaks in favor of this version: if we compare this path with the location of this house, then many details coincide.
By the way, the story of the building is interesting. Before the revolution, merchant Ivan Korovin owned it, then the Institute of Rhythm was located in the mansion, and there is evidence that Isadora Duncan herself repeatedly danced in her (her studio was nearby, on Prechistenka). Now it is a private residential residence.
2. House Solovyov
The corner of Khlebniy and Maly Rzhevsky lanes is decorated with a magnificent Gothic building, which at the beginning of the last century was built for himself by the academician of architecture Sergey Soloviev.
A house with arched windows, stucco, wrought decor and ceramic panels in antique style could well be the prototype of Margarita’s dwelling, and its characteristic three-part window, according to supporters of this version, is exactly the window from which the heroine of the novel flew on a broomstick.
After Solovyov’s death, the graphic artist Pavel Pavlinov became the owner of the building. In the early years of the revolution, he was one of the initiators of painting exhibitions in this house, later there was a representative office of the Georgian Republic. By the way, the house was “lit up” in the film “Seventeen Moments of Spring” – it was there that the Gestapo supposedly housed, where they kept radio operator Kat.
3. Gothic “castle” Kekushev
This mansion, located on Ostozhenka, is considered one of the main contenders for the title of “House of Margarita”. The building resembles a medieval castle and its whole appearance is very unusual – it is asymmetrical, filled with all sorts of interesting details, with a high tent tower and a huge metal lion on a gable.
In addition, a curious story is connected with the house. Architect Lev Kekushev built it for himself and his family. So, it is known that the daughter of the architect, against the will of her parents, left the house and settled with her lover, the artist Sergey Topleninova, in Mansurovsky Lane. And in the novel Bulgakov in this alley lived the Master.
However, there are inconsistencies with the house of Margarita. According to the description, her mansion was much smaller and lower than Kekushev’s house, moreover, he, we recall, had a garden with a fence and he stood in Arbat side street, and not on Ostozhenka.
4. Ryabushinsky House (Gorky Museum)
The famous and incredibly extravagant Moscow mansion, built by architect Fyodor Shekhtel for the merchant Ryabushinsky, and after the revolution, became the home of Maxim Gorky, could well have been taken by Bulgakov as a basis for describing Margarita’s house.
This building has Gothic elements, it is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence, but it does not have a three-leaved window similar to the one mentioned in the novel, and it is too luxurious for an ordinary engineer to live in and occupy an entire floor. And, again, Malaya Nikitskaya Street, on which the mansion is located.