The first dachas in Russia appeared in the age of Peter the Great. Initially these were the country estates located near St.Petersburg that the tsar presented to people close to him for their services to the country. That was the time when the word “dacha” appeared in the language. It was derived from the verb “davat” (English “to give”).
People spent their time greatly in dachas: they arranged balls there, opened saloons, etc. Dachas became an inseparable part of the bohemian life. Well-to-do nobles invited poets, artists and composers there. Dacha was glorified by many great classics of Russia: Pushkin, Turgenev, Chekhov. By the end of the 19th century dacha finally became something of a cult. A whole industry worked for this kind of a country vacation. It released the goods only for dacha pastime: starting with fantails and bonnets up to furniture and water closets.
With the advent of the Soviet rule many dachas were dispossessed for benefit of the working class. The confiscated lands were given to the proletariat to have a rest there. And as there was no room for all comers, then from 50 to 70 representatives of the working class could have a rest at one dacha simultaneously.
In the beginning of the Stalin era only the Supreme Soviet government members were to have personal dachas. The exceptions were made for famous scientists, writers, composers, outstanding dairymaids and miners. Later the government allowed setting up the so-called “gardening partnerships” but the sizes of the dacha constructions were strictly limited. The living area of a dacha house couldn’t be more than 30 square meters.
In the beginning of the 1960’s the “Khrushchev thaw” began. It also influenced the dacha movement. The strict conditions concerning dacha building were relaxed. Everyone who wished could have a land. However, being afraid of the private property appearance, the Communist Party was not in a hurry to provide everyone with large plots of land. The largest size of the plot could not exceed six hundred square meters.
Dacha boom peak took place in the 1980’s when the country faced the difficulties with food. In the conditions of the total shortage dacha became the only means that allowed people to have a little bit more than just green tomatoes from the Soviet department store.
After the USSR disintegration people got the opportunity to earn money. The new bourgeois class, the so-called “New Russians”, began to form. Dachas got the wide scope of construction. Became free from the strict soviet standards, the newly-made businessmen began to build castles and fortresses, throwing their money around and not taking any expenses into account. It was considered to be the greatest swank among the “New Russians” to have a mini-zoo or a swimming pool where the crocodiles were kept at a dacha. At this time holiday villages famous all over Russia started to appear not far from Moscow: Zhukovka, Nikolina Gora, Barvikha. The common name for these holiday villages is Rublevka as all of them are located along the Rublevo-Uspenskoe Highway. These dachas belong to millionaires and the first government persons.
But for a great number of people dacha is still a simple and good way to spend the time like it was in the 19th century. Of course, vacation on a modern dacha differs a lot from that one of the 19th century. But it is the right place for a modern city resident to have a good time and relax.