Flight on a Broom

Nikolay Galkin/TASS
"Reaching the end of her street, Margarita turned sharp right and flew on down a long, crooked street with its plane trees and its patched roadway, its oil-shop with a warped door…" In the times of Bulgakov, the oil-shop was located in the house 22 of Sivtsev Vrazhek Pereulok (Sivtsev Vrazhek Lane), named after the Sivets River that was put in an underground pipe in the 19th century. Walking along this lane, you can see the intimate proximity of different epochs, architectural and ideological styles, on the streets of Moscow.

The only theatre that existed at Ulitsa Arbat (Arbat Street) in the times of Bulgakov really does stand on a corner, as described in the book, with its main facade to Ulitsa Arbat and the side facades overlooking Bolshoy Nikolopeskovsky and Maly Nikolopeskovsky lanes. The theatre is known today as Vakhtangov Theatre (Ulitsa Arbat, 26).

"Her attention was caught by a massive and obviously newly-built eight-storey block of flats at the far end of the street. Margarita… saw that the building was faced with black marble, that its doors were wide, that a porter in gold-laced peaked cap and buttons stood in the hall. Over the doorway was a gold inscription reading 'Dramlit House'."

Bolshoy Nikolopeskovsky Pereulok (Bolshoy Nikolopeskovsky Lane) ends with a high building, the contemporary of the novel's events. But building 12 only has seven floors, while apartment 84 that was destroyed by Margarita was located on the eighth floor. Most likely that means that Bulgakov took a different building and "moved" it to Nikolopeskovsky Pereulok. The description best fits the House of Writers that was built in 1937 and partly faced with black marble. The building is located at Lavrushinsky Pereulok (Lavrushinsky Lane), 17, and you will have to take a different walk to see it, as it is located in a different district of Moscow. A lot of Soviet and Russian writers lived there – Agnia Barto, Valentin Katayev, Ilya Ilf, Veniamin Kaverin, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Prishvin, Konstantin Paustovsky, Vladimir Chivilikhin, Boris Shklovsky, Ilya Erenburg – and apartment 84 was actually located on the eighth floor. This was where critic Osaf Litovsky, the prototype of the novel's critic Latunsky, lived.