Famous people from Ryazan
What notable people were born, raised,
worked and died in Ryazan?
Writer Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin
Saltykov-Shchedrin lived in Ryazan only for a short time, spending a total of three years there: the first period lasted two years, and a decade later, he returned for another year. However, despite the short stay, the writer remained long remembered by Ryazan, and vice versa.
Mikhail Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin moved to Ryazan as part of his career in the civil service. In 1858, Emperor Alexander II appointed Saltykov-Shchedrin, aged 32 at the time, deputy governor of Ryazan. From the very onset, Saltykov-Shchedrin focused on eradicating the arbitrary exercise of power and corruption among government officials. At the very fist meeting of the Ryazan Governorate he announced,

"Gentlemen, I shall not tolerate any bribe-taking. Moreover, anyone with a higher pay shall be held to stricter account. Those of you who wish to proceed with their service during my term of office, be prepared to forsake those practices and carry out your duty fairly and honestly..."

Saltykov-Shchedrin engaged in cleaning up the ranks of government officials, with many of them forced to leave their long-held positions.

Young Saltykov-Shchedrin in the city of Vyatka in 1856, two years before his transfer to Ryazan
An extract from Saltykov-Shchedrin's letter to his friend Vladimir Bezobrazov:

"Ever since I arrived here, I have been swamped with work which can only be described as excruciating, and not only can I engage in nothing [else] but I am unable to even enjoy reading a book. Put shortly, I am furious with myself, if not sorry, for accepting my appointment to Ryazan. Such profusion of lawlessness and absurdity is unlikely to be found, and the trickery of Vyatka is no more than an example of pure good nature [when compared] to the trickery typical for Ryazan. <…> I do not know and cannot predict the end of my tortures. I am only sure that I am unlikely to endure this for long." (29 June 1858)
Civil servants in Ryazan nicknamed vice governor Saltykov-Shchedrin the "vice-Robespierre"
Ryazan played an important role in Saltykov-Shchedrin's works. During his first arrival in Ryazan, the writer completed his previous works, which later were included into the Innocent Stories and Satires in Prose cycles: The Happy Living, Our Friendly Pastime, Gegemoniyev, Zubatov, Madam Padeykova, Agreement (Meeting), The Gnashing of Teeth. Saltykov-Shchedrin's writing was not limited to fiction: around the same time he creates And The Gnashing of Teeth, an article that remained unpublished until 1915. A lot of what was written in Ryazan becomes part of Grassroots Journalism, a story that was written in late 1860 in Tver and contained the first reference to the city of Glupov, a generalised image of a Russian city (according to some opinions, true in any era and under any government).

With his stinging satire, Saltykov-Shchedrin became a real terror for provincial officials. His two years in office produced a heavy file with complaints about his practices. Living in a spirit of total lawlessness, Ryazan's officials and landlords came to hate Saltykov-Shchedrin and caused him to resign and leave the city in 1860.
Ryazan's main association with Saltykov-Shchedrin today is the turquoise-coloured classicist building in Lenin Street. Built in 1804, the house is an example of the pre-war (or pre-fire, as the Muscovites would say) Classicism. In the early 19th century, the house was owned by the Governorate's Attorney N.L. Drukort, before being converted into a revenue house by the middle of the century. It is here that Saltykov-Shchedrin resided in 1858 and 1860. However, as he did not own the building, it would not be true to describe it as "Saltykov-Shchedrin's house".
In 1867, Saltykov-Shchedrin arrives in Ryazan again, this time as a newly appointed chairman of the Treasury Chamber. A black and white photo depicts the building at 49 Svoboda Street, at the corner of Saltykov-Shchedrin Street. This unpretentious mansion of the Starodubsky family was home to Saltykov-Shchedrin in 1867–1868. However, as was the case during his first span in Ryazan, things did not work out well: following a conflict with Ryazan's governor in May 1868, the writer left the service for good, retiring with a monthly pension of 1,000 roubles. During both his stays in Ryazan, Saltykov-Shchedrin invested a lot of efforts into alleviating the lives of peasants and contributing to the city's cultural heritage.

Physiologist Ivan Pavlov
Conditioned reflexes, Pavlov's dogs, Nobel prize. These, and not a wooden house with a mezzanine on one of Ryazan's streets, are the most common associations.
Later a world-renowned scientist, Ivan Pavlov was born in 1849 in Ryazan to a family of priests. His father had been a priest in the Lazarev Church (demolished in the middle of the 20th century), and all the ancestors of both his parents were priests too. Ironically, Ivan Pavlov chose an academic career, but before that he graduated from the Ryazan church school and then the local theological seminary. During his last year at the seminary, he read Ivan Sechenov's Reflexes of the Brain, a book that transformed his entire life. Having developed a passion for science, Ivan Pavlov left Ryazan in 1870 to enrol in the St Petersburg university, where his career as a researcher and physiologist began.

Ivan Pavlov in his young years
From Ivan Pavlov's memories:

"I have been told that I was born in the house of my maternal grandfather. But strangely enough, it feels as if I remember my first visit to the house where I later spent my childhood up until adolescence. But I made that visit when in the hands of my nurse, meaning I was about twelve months old. I may be wrong in my estimation of my age at the time. My father, who had previously resided with his father-in-law, bought an old house that was renovated before we moved in. The floor in the house was repaired as well. Probably out of precaution, me and my elder brother were held by our nurse. I remember very vividly being in her hands, as well as the floor being repaired. The fact that I remember myself back to a very early stage in my life was also proven by another incident. When one of my maternal uncles died and was being carried to the cemetery I was taken out to say goodbye, and that memory also remains very vivid."
This quote shows that Ivan Pavlov's family moved to the house with a mezzanine when he was around twelve months old, meaning he was born elsewhere. Then why does the commemorative plaque on Ivan Pavlov's Museum say that he was born and lived here until the age of eleven? In fact Ivan Pavlov was born in a one-storey wooden house not far away (25 Pavlov Street) – that was the "maternal grandfather's house" he had referred to.

The plaque reads "Scientist Ivan Pavlov was born and lived here from 1849 to 1879"
Ivan Pavlov Museum. To the left of the gate is the house where the scientist was born. The building is part of the museum estate and is called the House of Science. Both houses were built in the early 19th century.
Ivan Pavlov visited the house of his childhood last time in August 1935, at the age of 86. He passed away six months later, and as early as a decade afterwards, in 1946, the house was turned into a museum. The interior of a 19th century home is still preserved here. The two houses with a wooden gate, fence, front yard, and an apple garden are truly part of the Ryazan of the mid-19th century.
The monument to Ivan Palvov has a high base and is located at the centre of the square in front of the Philharmonic Hall. Looking from afar, one may think this is a monument to Vladimir Lenin. The monument was opened in 1949 to commemorate Ivan Pavlov's 100th anniversary. The author is Matvey Manizer, a prominent Russian sculptor. This monument brought him a Stalin Prize, one of the three in his lifetime. He also erected a monument to Vladimir Lenin in Ryazan's square of the same name.

Father of astronautics Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
"My roots are in the Ryazan land. I have probably lived my best years here, and the experiences have been many: I learnt the alphabet and conceived my first grand ideas here," Tsiolkovsky wrote about his childhood.
Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky was born in 1857 in Izhevskoye, a village near Ryazan. In 1864, his family moved to Ryazan to live in one of the houses in the estate of the noble family of Kolemin. The building still exists today (40 Voznesenskaya Street), but, sadly, its last residents have been relocated for it to be demolished. In 1868, Tsiolkovsky's father lost his job, and the family moved to Vyatka, where Konstantin, aged 11, enrols in a local school. Konstantin's last year in Ryazan was marred by complications he developed from scarlet fever, which caused him to become hard of hearing.

Konstantin Tsiolkovsky at the age of 5
Tsiolkovsky left some notable memories about the childhood years he spent in Ryazan:

"In my dreams, I imagined jumping high and climbing up poles and ropes like a cat. I also dreamt about having no gravity. I liked climbing walls, roofs, and trees. I would jump off a fence to fly. I liked running around and playing with the ball and games like lapta, gorodki, blind man's buff, and other. I used to fly a kite and also raised a small box with a cockroach to its height using the thread. During rains and in autumn, there was a huge puddle in our yard. Both water and ice caused me to go into a dreamy state of mind. I tried sailing a water trough and making ice skates out of wire. As for the latter, I succeeded, but then I fell on ice so badly that I saw stars. Finally I was given a pair of real skates, though broken. They were repaired, and I mastered skating in one day. I even used them to go to a pharmacy the very same day I put them on."
The house where Tsiolkovsky lived in 1864–1868. 40 Voznesenskaya Street. Photo by Google Maps
After four years at school in Vyatka, three years of self-learning, and two years of home schooling in Vyatka, the 20-year-old Tsiolkovsky returned to Ryazan. The family had to move out of Vyatka as a result of the ill health of Konstantin's father, who struggled to accept the death of his wife and some of their children. Tsiolkovsky's family settled in a one-storey wooden house in Sadovaya Street.
Tsiolkovsky's house in Sadovaya Street burned down, and a new mansion was built instead. The facade of a wooden house was replaced with a brick wall decorated with wood and traditional architraves and closed window shutters. Sadly, this is how the memory of Tsiolkovsky is maintained.
Tsiolkovsky wrote about the second time he lived in the city: "I visited the places where I used to live in Ryazan. Everything seemed very little and dirty, and everyone I knew looked short and grown really old. Gardens, yards and houses lost their appeal, which is the usual disappointment one feels when visiting the once well-known places."
"I remember making experiments with chickens during my first years in Ryazan. Using a centrifuge, I increased their weight five times. No damage was done to them whatsoever," Tsiolkovsky wrote
"Every day I would go on walks quite far away from home and dreamt about my works and an airship. I had been warned that there were a lot of wolves around, with wolf tracks and even feathers left from the chickens they had attacked. But somehow I did not think it was dangerous and went on with my walks."

Some time after moving back to Ryazan, Tsiolkovsky had a row with his father, as a result moving out to rent a room in the house of a Palkin, a civil servant. Since no one knew Tsiolkovsky in Ryazan, there was no demand for the private lessons he was offering.
Obtaining a teacher's position at the local school required officially acknowledged qualifications. Tsiolkovsky had to pass a test-out exam to be qualified as a rural teacher of mathematics. In addition to sciences, the exam included parts on Bible knowledge, catechesis, and grammar, none of which he liked. Tsiolkovsky passed the tests successfully and was appointed teacher of math and geometry at a local school in Borovsk, Kaluga Governorate.

Certificate of rural math teacher obtained by Tsiolkovsky in 1879.
Biologist Ivan Michurin
Famous horticulturist Ivan V. Michurin was born in his father's estate of Vershina (near the village of Yumashevka, Pronsky District of the Ryazan Governorate). At the age of 17, Michurin graduated from a local school in Pronsk in 1872 and was preparing for admission to the St Petersburg college when his father suddenly fell ill. Rumour had it that he suffered from a mental illness and was institutionalised in Ryazan. Michurin's family went into debts and had to sell the family estate. Since then, Michurin lived in Ryazan, and his uncle helped him enrol in a local school of the Ryazan Governorate.
The house where Michurin lived in 1872. 92 Vvedenskaya Street. Photo by Google Maps
Michurin barely stayed there for six months before being expelled in 1872 in quite a preposterous story.

In his biography I.V. Michurin: The Great Remaker of Nature, A.N. Bakharev wrote,

"In an exceptionally cold weather in winter, student Michurin failed to take his hat off when saying hello to the school principal Mr Oransky, who found that unacceptable." That episode ended Michurin's short stay in Ryazan. After his expulsion from school, he moved to the town of Kozlov (currently Michurinsk), where he worked as a railway clerk for many years.
Writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a former political prisoner, arrived in Ryazan in 1957 to move in with his ex-wife Natalia Reshetovskaya. For eight years, from 1957 to 1965, they lived at apartment 3, 12, 1st Kasimovsky Side Street. Today, this address is 17 Uritsky Street. For Solzhenitsyn, a 9 sq m room in a wooden barrack felt like the best place he had ever lived in.
Solzhenitsyn during his first stay in Ryazan. December 1956.
Natalia Reshetovskaya's notes about their room in Ryazan:

"Our room had two desks facing each other: one of my husband, big and simple, with a multitude of drawers in it; and mine, old, small, resting on fine carved legs. Walls were hidden behind bookshelves. A small round table, also old, stood near the bed. We used it for the books that we read before falling asleep."
It is this house where Solzhenitsyn was secretly writing The Gulag Archipelago. From his memories: "As if the secret writing in itself was not enough, I had to learn a new art of hiding whatever I had written."

The plaque reads: "Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, a Russian writer and Nobel prize winner, lived in this house".
Ryazan school No. 2, where Solzhenitsyn was a teacher. In the 19th century, this building hosted a church school, where the young scientist Ivan Pavlov studied in the 1860s.
The photo above shows Ryazan school No. 2, which Solzhenitsyn was appointed to in July 1957 as a teacher of physics and astronomy.

His former student N. Torpova (Sazonova) reminisced about her school days in 1989:

"<...> After the new teacher arrived, I began to like physics. All the students did. Mr Solzhenitsyn's teaching system was close to what universities had, with extensive oral examinations, tests, and exciting laboratory experiments. I think he could be just as good at teaching literature. His approach was what made his stood out. For an astronomy lesson, Mr Solzhenitsyn could bring a book of classic prose, find a piece of text with a description of stars, and comment on them as a professional astronomer. It turned out that even classic authors who liked looking at stars were not always right in their observations. Stories about the secrets of stars, which Mr Solzhenitsyn sometimes told us when going out to the local Kremlin, were so poetic and his gift of storytelling so obvious that the students were tempted to ask him about something more than simply the sky above. But there was always something mysterious about Mr Solzhenitsyn, and children never ventured."

O.B. Suslovich, one of the teachers at school No. 2:

"Mr Solzhenitsyn's lessons were always absorbing and full of emotions. Children would listen to him with great attention. I was often a witness to his extraordinary lessons."
Ryazan College of Electronics, where the action of Solzhenitsyn's novella For the Good of the Cause takes place. The building was erected in the second half of the 1950s, and finish plaster was used only for the front facade and the side walls.
The college became a prototype for the one described by Solzhenitsyn in For the Good of the Cause. The novella describes students of an electronics college spending their summer helping to build new college premises – only to learn that on completion the Soviet authorities order from Moscow that the building should be handed over to a new research institute.

In 2003, a small literature museum opened at the college to commemorate Solzhenitsyn's works.
1/8 Yablochkov Drive. Solzhenitsyn and his wife received an apartment here in 1965.
The years spent in Ryazan marked a very prolific period in Solzhenitsyn's life: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, An Incident at Krechetovka Station, The First Circle, Cancer Ward, The Red Wheel, Matryona's Home, For the Good of the Cause, The Gulag Archipelago, and Miniatures were all written in Ryazan.
In this building at 35 Lenin Street (Ryazan office of the Union of Soviet Writers), Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Union in 1969, following which he moved to Moscow.
In his memoir The Oak and the Calf, Solzhenitsyn wrote: "The November holidays were over, the trains got less crammed with people, and I decided to go to Moscow. Little did I know that it would be forever, that I was not to live in Ryazan again, a city which was from that moment on closed to me."
Architect Matvey Kazakov
An influential Neoclassical architect of Moscow, Matvey Kazakov was credited with creating some of Ryazan's famous houses of the late 18th century: assembly of nobility, Ryumin's house, Malshin Almshouse, and governorate school No. 1. Until recently this had been open to queston until researchers found information in the archives that almost all of those buildings were designed by Nikifor P. Milyunov, Ryazan Governorate's architect. Still, Kazakov has some quite direct ties to Ryazan.
Holy Trinity Monastery. Trinity Church on the left and St Sergius on the right.
In 1812, during the Patriotic War, Kazakov's family took him to Ryazan, away from the warfare. The architect was 74 at the time and had developed health problems. This is when the news about the fire of Moscow came. The city, which had taken so much of Kazakov's effort and heart to build and decorate, burnt down. The famous architect failed to get over the tragic news and passed away on 7 November 1812.
Kazakov was buried in the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Monastery, 30 m away from the chancel of the St Sergius Church. The grave is believed to be lost even before the Revolution of 1917. Today, it is part of the premises of the Ryazan Plant of Automotive Equipment. The only thing left is the commemorative plaque on the chancel of the St Sergius Church.

The plaque reads: "The great Russian architect Matvey Kazakov was buried at the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Men's Monastery in 1812.
Matvey Kazakov was buried approximately where the grey plant building is located now.
Talent foundry
This is the building of governorate school No. 1, currently hosting the Ryazan Institute (Branch) of the Moscow State University of Mechanical Engineering (MAMI). In addition to Ivan Michurin and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky mentioned in the article, students of the school included artist Peter Boklevsky, pharmacologist Nikolai Kravkov, poet Yakov Polonsky, neurologist Aleksei Kozhevnikov, geologist Andrey Arkhangelsky, psychiatrist Pyotr Gannushkin, and surgeon Alexey Martynov.

Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin and his fight against corrupted officials; soon-to-become priest Ivan Pavlov, who suddenly decided to go into sciences; Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and his tests of centrifuging chickens; Ivan Michurin, who failed to take his hat off to greet the school principal; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and his secret writing about Soviet repressions; and, finally, Matvey Kazakov, who could not survive the thought of Moscow being burnt down: all of them have their own stories, and those are now part of Ryazan.
Made on