Volkovskoe Cemetery

The most remarkable part of Volkovskoe Cemetery is the so-called "Writer's Walkways", the site where many Russian and Soviet writers, musicians, actors, architects, scientists and public figures are buried. Also here you can explore the older tombs and crypts of the Lutheran Cemetery, located on the opposite side of the Volkovka River.

Writers' Corner (Literatorskie mostki) at Volkovo Cemetery in St Petersburg, Russia
Writers' Corner (Literatorskie mostki) at Volkovo Cemetery

The history of the Volkovskoe Cemetery begins in 1759, when a cemetery for paupers near the village of Volkovka was built by decree of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna. Burials took place without overall supervision, and soon the graveyard began to resemble a wild park rather than an orderly cemetery. In the 19th century a few paths were laid and several churches were built. Of these, the only one that has survived is the Church of St. Job, built in 1887.

At the end of the 18th century, land was allocated for Lutherans, Old Believers, and Old Ritualists (members of the Edinoverie movement that attempted a compromise between the Old Believers and the official Orthodox Church) beyond the Volkovka River. Founded in 1772, it served the parishioners of the Lutheran Church of St. Peter and Church of St. Anna Church. In contrast to the orthodox section, the Lutheran section was orderly to begin with. From 1820 to 1935 more than 40,000 people were buried there. Plenty of the headstones, family tombs and monuments remain in good shape.

Tombstone of write Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak at Volkovo Cemetery in St Petersburg, Russia
Tombstone of write Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak at Volkovo Cemetery

In the 19th century, Volkovskoe Cemetery became one of the largest in St. Petersburg. During this period, the tradition began of burying literary and artistic worthies in the eastern part the cemetery. Due to the permanent dampness of the dirt paths, wooden boards were laid - so-called "mostki", which would soon be named the "Writer's Walkways". One of the first well-known writers buried at the site was the radical social critic Alexander Radischev, author of the controversial Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. He was followed by other reform-minded critics including Vissarion Belinsky and Nikolay Dobrolyubov. After the funeral of another journalist, Dmitry Pisarev, in 1868, this corner's reputation as the literary Pantheon was sealed.

Tombstone of chemist Dmitry Mendeleev at Volkovo (Volkovskoe) Cemetery in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Tombstone of chemist Dmitry Mendeleev at Volkovo (Volkovskoe) Cemetery

Other famous graves along the "Writer's Walkways" include those of the writers Ivan Turgenev, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolay Leskov, Gennady Uspenky, and Alexander Kuprin; poets Alexey Apukhtin, Semen Nadson, and Mikhail Kuzmin; scientists Dmitry Mendeleev, Vladimir Bechterev, and Ivan Pavlov; explorer Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay; and radio pioneer Alexander Popov. In 1935, the remains of writers Nikolay Pomyalovsky, Alexander Blok, and Ivan Goncharov were moved to the "Writer's Walkways" and the care of the cemetery area was entrusted to the State Museum of Urban Sculpture. There are now over 500 tombs in this part of the cemetery, many of them with considerable artistic as well as historical value.

  • Tombstone of poet Olga Bergholtz at Volkovo Cemetery in St Petersburg, Russia
    Tombstone of poet Olga Bergholtz
  • Detail of the tombstone of ballerina Alla Shelest in St Petersburg, Russia
    Detail of the tombstone of ballerina Alla Shelest

At the end of the 20th century, the "Writer's Walkways" were in the news when there were active discussions and proposals for the removal of Lenin's body from the mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow and his subsequent reburial here. A memorial to the Ulyanov family (Lenin's real surname) is located on "Writer's Walkways", making this the obvious place for the Father of the Revolution to be buried, but this plan never came together. Although the plans fell through, a lot of people still looked for the secret tomb of Lenin at the Volkovskoe Cemetery.

Address:7a, Rasstanny Pereulok
Metro stations:Volkovskaya
Directions:Exit Volkovskaya Metro Station and walk right along Volkovkskiy Prospekt to reach the Lutheran Cemetery, or cross Volkovskiy Prospekt and follow the tram lines along Kasimovskaya Ulitsa and round the corner onto Ulitsa Kamchatskaya for the entrance to the Orthodox Cemetery and the "Writer's Walkways").
Website (cemetery):
Website (Writer's Walkways):
Website (museum):
Phone:+7 (812) 166-23-83
Opening hours:Museum: Daily from 11am to 5pm, closed on Thursdays
What's nearby? Volkovka River, Ligovsky Prospekt