Oh these beautiful little towns placed near the city of Saint Petersburg! The place of Aleksander Pushkin’s lyceum life, the royal Tsarskoye Selo and the Catherine Park with its ancient trees, peony bushes and gorgeous pavilions, grottoes and dozens of white marble sculptures, hidden “in the shadows of Elizabethan bosquets”.
The park is divided into two parts: the Regular Park with its geometrically correct straight paths and “wild” Landscape (English) Park with shady paths, marble monuments and a big pond.
The Hermitage (architects: M. Zemtsov, Rastrelli) was built for the Empress Elizabeth in 1749 as a place for private talks with the guests, dinners and children’s parties. The first floor was basically a technical room, the second one surprised the noble guests with its mechanical tables with serving mechanisms. The members of the royal family could turn a dining room into a dance hall without the help of intrusive servants.
The Cold Bath pavilion inspired by the ancient Roman baths
The Cameron Gallery is a place made for slow walks and philosophical discussions. It’s decorated with tall columns and sculptures of ancient heroes, a long staircase is connecting the regular and landscape parts of the Catherine park.
The beautiful Grotto was built on the shore of the Big Pond in 1756. The interior of the Grotto is decorated with all the baroque splendor: white columns, turquoise walls and decor elements made with 210 thousand large shells and a countless amount of the smaller ones.
Catherine II loved to spend her mornings in the Grotto reading and working, she also used to set off from here for a boat trip.
The colorful Upper Bathhouse is now used for temporary exhibitions.
Big Pond and the Admiralty
The Landscape Park
The Milkmaid (The Girl with a Pitcher) fountain (sculptor: P. Sokolov, 1816). The sculpture was buried in the ground during the war and for that reason it was not damaged. The original is now kept in the stores of the museum-preserve Tsarskoye Selo, but we can still see its accurate bronze copy in the park.
The Chesme Column (Rinaldi, 1774-1778) – a monument glorifying Russian naval victories in the recent war against Turkey.
The latest building of the park – The Turkish Bath, a memorial to the Russo-Turkish war (1828-1829), built by Emperor Nicholas I in 1850-1852. The dome of gilded copper, cascade fountains (fountain of tears) flowing along the walls and stunning marble decorations – trophies from the Turkish city Adrianople…
And finally we’re heading to the place which is always crowded and you can hear the camera click sounds here and there…
…to the absolute gem of the park ensemble – The Catherine Palace, a summer residence of the three Russian empresses – Catherine I, Elizabeth and Catherine II. The Catherine palace was admired and rebuilt countless times, its rich decoration became a real legend (“Have you hear it? The roof is made of pure gold!”), and there is a stunning room-size amber treasure hidden among the spacious rooms of the palace.
And we will talk about it all very soon!
Official website: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve
Address: 7 Sadovaya Street, Pushkin
Opening hours: Opened daily
May to July: 7.00–23.00; September to April: 7.00–21.00; August: 7.00–22.00
Tickets: Adults – Rub 120 Students (with ID); Schoolchildren above 16 – Rub 60; Visitors under 16 – free