Discover stories of the Russian imperial family and aristocracy on a visit to two former imperial summer residencies: Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) and Pavlovsk. Classically stylish, Pavlovsk is surrounded by the largest landscape park in Europe. In contrast to Pavlovsk is opulent Tsarskoe Selo, home to the stunning baroque Catherine Palace where you will have the chance to see the renowned resurrected Amber Room.
As soon as St-Petersburg became the new Russian capital in 1712, a necklace of glamorous imperial palace and park ensembles appeared around the new city. Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk are the brightest among them. They are situated next to each other and about 25-30 miles from the city centre. There are two former imperial palaces at Tsarskoe Selo, Catherine Palace is located side by side to Alexander Palace with parks surrounding them.
The other name of the place is Pushkin being tightly connected with the life of this famous Russian poet. In 1937 Tsarskoe Selo was renamed into Pushkin on the 100th anniversary of the poet’s tragic death. The memory of Alexander Pushkin is being carefully preserved in the place with the Lyceum, the former school for noble boys, which young Pushkin attended, turned into a museum as well as numerous monuments around dedicated to the national icon.
The first owners of Tsarskoe Selo were women: Catherine I, the wife of Peter I, Elisabeth I, their daughter, and Catherine II. Elisabeth I, after she had inherited Tsarskoe Selo, treated it with special affection and named the palace she commissioned to be built after her mother.
Catherine Palace is a “miracle of baroque reconstruction where rooms of gold leaf and mirrors give the illusion of no walls “(V. Hammond “Letters from St-Petersburg”). You will have a chance to visit the breath-taking Amber Room decorated by Elisabeth’s court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Since the middle of the XVIII century, when the walls of the room were lined with mosaic panels made of amber of various color and shade, it is often quoted to be “the eighth wonder of the world”.
Catherine II ordered to enlarge the park by creating carefully orchestrated landscape compositions. She also invited Ch.Cameron and G.Quarenghi to work at Tsrskoe Selo both being the passionate lovers of the classical architecture. The whole series of buildings appeared in the park inspired by the Ancient World as well as Alexander Palace was finished in 1796 for Catherine’s grandson, the future Emperor Alexander I. Alexander Palace was the favorite place of the last Imperial family of Nicholas II from where they started their fatal trip to Siberia in 1917. Pavlovsk used to be the imperial residence for a short period of time of less than 5 years.
In 1777 Catherine II presented the estate to her son, Grand Duke Paul and his wife Maria on the birth of their first son Alexander. During the brief reign of Paul I the suburban mansion became an official residence of the Imperial family.
The palace built there in the late XVIII and early XIX centuries, the time when Classicism developed as the leading arts style in Russia, is one of the most exquisite residences in the suburbs of ST-Petersburg. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of the classical style in Europe. “Its décor provides the most harmonious blend of foreign and native talent. Gobelin tapestries, Sevres porcelain, Jacob chairs and Roentgen desks and chests are complemented by ivory-decorated Russian furniture, Russian glass and porcelain, steel Tula pieces, and some of the most beautiful chandeliers ever made anywhere.” (O. Bernier “No Palace Like Home”). The collection of statues is second in Russia only to the one of the Hermitage Museum.
The Palace is located on the banks of the picturesque and romantic river Slavyanka and in the largest landscape park of Europe (over 600 hectares). Numerous pavilions are scattered across the whole park. Alleys and paths cover the whole area as a spider’s web.
We suggest having late lunch after the tours in the traditional Russian restaurant Podvorye, being rumored to be the favorite restaurant of Mr. Putin (please be kindly advised that meals are not included into the tour price).
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