Description of Travel Destinations in Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the largest
of the Russian palace located 26 km (16 mi) South of St.
Petersburg in Russia.
Catherine (Great) Palace of Tsarskoye Selo
Construction of Catherine (Great) Palace owes its layout
and internal appearance to three Russian Empresses who overlooked its
construction in the duration of the 18th century: Catherine I (last wife
of Emperor Peter I the Great), Elizabeth and Catherine II. The leading
role in architectural design was given to a prominent Russian- Italian
architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. He determined the size of the
building (306 meters in total length), its layout and internal as well
as external appearance of the building. The main building began its
construction in 1744 until 1756.
The architectural appearance of the Catherine Palace is
based on the lighting effects and decorative contrasts, typical of the
Baroque architectural style popular in the 18th century. The interiors
of the palace reflected different artistic styles, mainly Baroque and
Classicism. Several rooms, converted in the middle of the XIX century,
received a finish in the style of the era of historicism. Beautiful
halls for ceremonial receptions were on the second floor on the side of
the front yard in chain one following the other. These rooms were known
as the Golden Enfilade (French architectural term for suite of rooms
that are aligned in chain). Some apartments were allocated for
residential rooms. They were called the Minor Enfilade.
Unfortunately, the private chambers of the royal family did not have
survive to modern times. Some of them were converted immediately after
the October Revolution of 1917 after Tsarskoye Selo Grand Palace was
transformed into a museum.
During the Second World War Tsarskoye Selo was occupied by the German
forces. Few weeks before their arrival museum keepers managed to make a
detailed inventory of all furniture, wall murals and other interior
details. They anticipated the loss of the Catherine Palace and did it to
reconstruct palace interior after a victory over Hitler's army. During
German occupation the palace interiors were destroyed. Whatever wasn't
evacuated before the German arrival, was stolen, destroyed or simply
stolen. The most important loss from this period is the legendary Amber
Room that disappeared shortly after the Nazi forces overtook over
Catherine Palace. Its whereabouts are still largely unknown. In
Catherine Palace was reopened for visitors in 1948 after a major
reconstruction project was completed. Complete detailed record of the
interiors were used to make an exact copy of the Palace.
Catherine Park (Tsarskoye Selo)
Central Tsarskoe Selo park known as a Catherine Park is just as
interesting is the interior of the palace. It consists of two parts: the
regular old garden and landscape "English garden". Old garden was laid
out on the three steps in front of the palace in the 1720s by garden
masters J. Roozenom and I. Vogt. Mirror Pond was added at the same time
on the third ledge of Tsarskoye Selo Palace park. Empress Elizabeth
increase the size of the park and added marble sculptures made by
Venetian sculptors of the early 18th century. F.B. Rastrelli also
designed and constructed two pavilions around this time: garden
"Hermitage" and "Grot".
By the end of the XVIII century the interest in regular park landscaping
disappears. And in the 1770s the Royal Family orders construction of the
so- called English Landscaping Garden situated just south of the Old
Park. Major work on its construction were carried out in 1770s and
1780s. Catherine Garden was filled with all sorts of architectural
buildings, monuments and works of sculpture, testifying to the greatness
of the reign of Empress Catherine II.
Alexander's Palace was constructed in 1792 by orders of Empress
Catherine the Great as a gift for the weeding of her oldest
grandson Grand Duke (and future Emperor) Alexander Pavlovich
with Grand Duchess Elizabeth Alekseevna. The project of the new
estate belonged to another Russian- Italian architect G.
Quarenghi with a cooperation with P. Neelov. In May 1796 the
last year of the reign of Empress Catherine II the palace
construction was completed and on 12 June 1796 Grand Duke
Alexander Pavlovich and his wife moved into the new residence.
Being smaller and cozier than the main palace, Alexander's
Palace became a favorite with the Imperial Family.
Alexander's Palace is an elongated two-story building with two
wings on either side. The center of the main facade is dominated
by colonnade consisting of two rows of columns. The interior of
the palace is designed by G. Quarenghi. Halls of Grand Enfilade
(architectural term for rooms formed into a chain) line the
interior garden facade of the palace. The center of this
enfilade is taken by a semi- rotunda divided into three parts by
In 1905 last Russian emperor Nicholas II made it his main
residence and lived here for the last 12 years of his reign till
Russian Revolution of 1917. Until recently, the famous palace
was closed to the public, and very few people knew that it
preserved the interiors of the front suite and personal finishes
Emperor Nicholas' apartments and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.
Rasputin visited the palace several times on his visit to czar's
son Alexei who had hemophilia. After the February Revolution
Czar along with his family were kept here under house arrest and
it was from here they were shipped to Siberia on their last
Alexander Park, adjacent to the Catherine Palace, covers an area
of about 200 hectares. Before the construction of Alexander's
Palace Empress Catherine, I kept this area fenced up. Here she
kept wild animals for Royal hunts. In the middle of the XVIII
century menagerie was surrounded by a stone wall with bastions
at the corners, two of which held entertainment pavilions
inside. Between the palace and the menagerie, a New Garden was
established with crossed alleys.
During World War II German who occupied the palace kept it as
local Gestapo Headquarter. Basements of the former czar's
residence were turned to prison cells and torture chambers for
unfortunate victims. Area in front of the palace was converted
to a cemetery for the fallen SS troops.
Fedorovsky Czar's Cathedral was constructed in
1912 under supervision of architect V.A. Pokrovsky. It was dedicated to the
miraculous icon of Our Lady of Theodore. First tsar of the
Romanov dynasty Michael Fedorovich was blessed by it in 1613
during his stay in Kostroma.
The place for the new church was chosen by Nicholas II, the last
emperor of the Romanov dynasty. He also instructed an architect
to copy features of Russian medieval architecture.
Initially the church was built for the three
regiments of the Imperial Guard stationed in Tsarskoye Selo.
Their barracks were located close to the place of residence of
the Royal family- the Alexander Palace. Fedorovsky cathedral was
originally planned with two churches. The idea of the
construction of the lower "cave" church originated in the
process of construction that lasted between 1909 and 1912. This
cave chapel was dedicated to Saint Seraphim of Sarov greatly
venerated by the Royal family. It was commonly used during
winter months of the year.
Fedorovsky Czar's Cathedral became a favorite
church of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II with his
wife Aleksandra. In addition to a royal family the church was opened to imperial
guard and their families.
Fedorovsky Czar's Cathedral was turned into a
parish church after the Royal family was exiled to Siberia and
later executed by the Communists. Part of the church property
was looted by the revolutionary soldiers and sailors. Fedorovsky
Czar's Cathedral was later closed in 1933 by the Soviet atheist
government as most of churches at the time. The Upper Church was
transformed into a movie theater. During World War II the
building of the church was badly damaged.
Only in 1991 Fedorovsky Czar's Cathedral was reconstructed
and returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. After
damages it received from the Bolsheviks and German bombings it was a titanic
work that succeeded as you can tell. During reconstruction of the church
archeologists discovered a copy of icon of Our Lady of Theodore
that was apparently taken out of the church and hidden by an
unknown parishioner or a former priest who served here. It was
returned back to the church. The services resumed in 1992 in the
lower church and in 1996 in the upper church. On July 16, 1993
(75th anniversary of the execution of the Royal Family) a bronze
bust of Nicholas II was placed next to Fedorovsky Czar's
Cathedral. The place for the statue was not chosen accidentally.
It was here according to a legend that the last emperor planted
five oaks in 1913 by the number of his children (Tatyana, Olga,
Maria, Anastasia and son Alexy).
Station (Царский вокзал)
The first wooden structure of the Imperial
Train Station was initially constructed here in 1895. However it was severely
damaged during a fire, thus another building had to replace the existing one. In
1912 V.A. Pokrovsky designed a new structure keeping up with the architecture of
the medieval Russia that was increasingly popular at the time. It lost its
importance after German invasion that damaged the building. Currently plans for
renovations are underway.