You'll begin your tour of the great writer's estate in the upstairs dining room, where you're greeted by numerous portraits of the Tolstoy aristocratic dynasty. Under their eyes, Tolstoy held significant social discussions with his family and his many visitors. Next door is the study where Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina and War and Peace at his father's Persian desk. Tolstoy seemed to prefer moving around his house to work on different books, however: another room downstairs was also used as a study. This is usually the last room on a visit to the main house. In November 1910, the writer's body lay here in state as some 5,000 mourners passed to pay their last respects.
The far wing of the building houses a literary museum dedicated to Tolstoy's writing career. Drawings and prints produced by Tolstoy's contemporaries, derived from the plots and characters of his novels, as well as Tolstoy's original manuscripts are displayed in the six halls. A path from the main house
into the forest leads to Tolstoy's simple, unadorned grave. On the edge of a ravine in the Stary Zakaz forest, the site was a favorite place of Tolstoy's and is now a popular pilgrimage destination for wedding parties. The walk to the grave takes about 20 minutes.
The estate-turned-museum is run by Tolstoy's great-great-grandson Vladimir Tolstoy, who is striving to turn it into a major cultural center. A restaurant, Noble's Estate, serves Russian food cooked using recipes from Tolstoy's wife Sophia that include sour cabbage soup and cow tongue with horseradish. There's also a hotel on the grounds.