The town of Pushkin, which was called Tsarskoye Selo (“Village of Tsars” in Russian) until 1917, is located some 12 miles (about 25 kilometers) away from St. Petersburg, the ensemble of the Catherine's Palace and Park are among Russia's top historical recreation complexes visited by hundreds of thousands tourists every year. It was the residence of the tsars from the beginning of the 18th century onwards. Famous Amber room is here.
In the seventeenth century there was a Finnish farm here at Dudorovsky eminence called "Saari mois" in Finnish language. In 1708 it became a possession of the Russian Tsar, and the Finnish phrase "Saari mois" was transformed into "Tsarskaya Mysa" that sounded more Russian.
In 1708-1724 Tsarskaya Mysa was the residence of Peter the Great's wife, the Empress Catherine I. From 1741 Tsarskoye Selo became the residence of the Empress Elizabeth and during her reign the architect Rastrelli created a magnificent Emperial Palace, a brilliant masterpiece of Russian baroque style. At the same time the Hermitage and Grotto Pavilions were built, regular Upper and Lower Gardens were laid out, and the Lower Garden was decorated with sculptures.
Later the ensemble was added by the Cold Bath-house, the Agate Pavilion, the Hanging Gardens with a sloping platform, and the Cameron Gallery.
It is best to get away from the city's rush and noise and come to Catherine's Palace and see its magnificent interior and treasuries or stroll along the Park alleys and paths. Here you will find calmness and relaxing atmosphere.
The exposition in the Catherine Palace Museum (prior to 1910 - the Great Tsarskoe Selo Palace) encompasses the 250-year history of the famous monument, and acquaints visitors with the work of the architects who participated in its construction and decoration in the 18th and 19th centuries, and also with the current state of this unique landmark, with the work of restorers who managed to bring the palace back to life after World War II. Currently, 29 of the 57 palace halls destroyed during the war have been restored.
In 1717, when the city of St. Petersburg was just being built on the banks of the Neva river, Tsarskoe Selo saw the construction of a new, stone imperial manor, which became known as the "Stone Chambers" of Catherine I. In August of 1724, when the construction was already completed, a celebration was organized in the palace during which "13 cannons were fired thrice." The Tsar and all of the major government dignitaries were present.
The palace was a small two-story building typical of Russian palaces of the early 18th century. The first attempt to expand the palace was undertaken during the reign of Empress Elizabeth according to plans by Mikhail Zemtsov at the end of 1742 and beginning of 1743. Reconstruction of the Catherine Palace and park ensemble was carried out by his pupils, Andrei Kvasov and Savva Chevakinsky. Following the death of Mikhail Zemtsov, work at Tzarskoje Selo passed under the direction of Andrei Kvasov and his assistant, the builder Giuseppe Trezini. On May 5, 1745, along with Trezini, Savva Chevakinsky was appointed to Tsarskoe Selo, and the latter oversaw the construction at Tsarskoe Selo until 1760. From the end of 1748 and through 1756, construction of the Tsarskoe Selo residence was directed by court architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. On May 10, 1752, Empress Elizabeth signed a decree ordering the complete overhaul of the old palace. On July 30, 1756, Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli presented his creation to Elizabeth and foreign diplomats.
The palace was quite impressive with its size, powerful spatial dynamics and picturesque decoration in the style of the Russian Baroque. The wide, light blue ribbon of the palace with its snow-white columns and gilt ornament looked quite festive. The northern wing was topped by the five golden domes of the Palace Chapel, and the southern wing, which contained the formal, state rooms, was topped off by a golden dome with a star on the spire. Approximately 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the exterior and interior ornaments. At this time the formal yard was also designed, surrounded by the palace's service buildings placed in a semi-circle around the "circumference" of the yard. The galleries of the palace's facade consisted of windows and columns, each of which bore a wooden, gold-leafed statue or vase.
Address: Pushkin, 7, Sadovaya Str.
Open: 10.00 - 17.00
Closed: on TUE and on the last MON of every month