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Like many writers, Chekhov made his way to Crimea to nurse his tuberculosis in a milder climate. His house, the famous Belaya Dacha (the White Dacha) now a museum, became a magnet for artists. So much so that he had to escape from it to another dacha on the cliffs west of Gurzuf. The house in Yalta he left to his sister, the cliff-top house he left to his wife.
The success of his play The Seagull enabled Anton Chekhov to build his house overlooking the sea in the hills above Yalta, not far from where he was born, by the Sea of Azov. He moved in in 1899 and stayed until 1904, when he left to spend his final days in Germany.
The view of the seafront from his first-floor study inspired the story The Lady with the Dog, and the garden, where Chekhov planted mulberry, almond and peach trees, cypress and birch, as well as cherry trees, became the inspiration for The Cherry Orchard.
Despite a stream of visitors, including Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Maxim Gorky and Isaak Levitan, whose paintings hang in the dark study, the consumptive Chekhov felt depressed and isolated at the White Dacha.
The house has a ground-floor veranda and a covered balcony on the first floor. A contemporary photograph shows that the trees he planted had not yet obscured the view in 1901. The garden, which he laid out himself, is made for pacing, with long winding paths edged with box.
For more on Chekhov in Crimea on cornucopia.net, see Victoria Khroundina’s blog article Chekhov’s Summer of Love
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