The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Tolstoy Family Cemetery at Kochaki

The Tolstoy family cemetery is located near St. Nicholas Church, 2.5 km to the south of Yasnaya Polyana. According to a legend, the church was built at the place where a resident of the village of Kochaki found an icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker. He took the icon home, but the next day it disappeared from his house and was found at the same place again. It was interpreted as a sign, and soon the church of St. Nicholas was built there. It was founded in the second half of the 17th century. The earliest graves – of the people who were owners of Yasnaya Polyana before the Volkonskys and the Tolstoys - date to the same time.  

St. Nicholas Church was the closest one to Yasnaya Polyana, and the owners of the estate were parishioners of this church. Here their children were baptized and the deceased were buried. On August 29, 1828 Leo Tolstoy was baptized at this church by the priest Vasily Mozhaisky.

Numerous mentions of Kochaki can be found in Tolstoy’s diaries, notebooks, and literary works.

The chief historic value of the church cemetery is the graves of Leo Tolstoy’s family. The writer’s father, mother and brother Dmitry lie in the family crypt in the north-eastern part of the cemetery. Near the crypt, is the grave of Tolstoy’s grandfather Nikolai Volkonsky; his remains and the gravestone were brought here in 1928 from the cemetery of Spaso-Andronikov Monastery, as a result of the liquidation of that cemetery. The graves of Leo Tolstoy’s aunts – Pelageya Youshkova and Tatiana Yorgolskaya – are also near the crypt. In 1946 the remains of Tolstoy’s brother Sergey were brought to this cemetery from the village of Pirogovo where he had lived and had been buried.

Tolstoy’s wife Sophia was buried at Kochaki, as well as some of their children: their daughter Maria, and sons Pyotr, Nikolai, Aleksei and Ivan who died in infancy or childhood. In 2008, the remains of their youngest son Mikhail were brought here from Morocco.

Here also is the grave of Sophia’s younger sister Tatiana Kuzminskaya.

Among Tolstoy’s grandchildren buried at Kochaki in the second half of the 20th century are Sophia Tolstaya-Yesenina (Director of the Yasnaya Polyana Museum in 1940s-50s), and Vladimir and Ilya Tolstoy who emigrated to Yugoslavia and returned to the Soviet Union after World War II. Some of Tolstoy’s great-grandchildren also lie here: the artists Alexander Tolstoy and Oleg Tolstoy, and the philologists Nikita Tolstoy and Ilya Tolstoy.

«At seven in the morning the church bell sounded from the decrepit belltower of the Nikolo-Kochakovsky parish, and the motley cheerful crowds of people approached the church on the rural roads and damp paths, winding between the grain and grasses wet with dew. The sexton ceased ringing the bells, and fixing his indifferent old man’s gaze on bright groups of women, children, old men, thronging the cemetery and parvis, sat on the overgrown grave» (Leo Tolstoy. Novel of a Russian Landowner).

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