The complex of palaces, chambers and palaces known as Tsaritsyno was built on what were then the southern outskirts of Moscow in the 18th century, on the orders of Empress Catherine the Great. The Great Palace is the only surviving example of what is now known as 'Russian Gothic'. The entire estate covers an area of over 400 hectares.
- On the spot where the Tsaritsyno palace complex was later built, there once stood an old village with the unpromising name of 'Chernaya Gryaz' – or 'Black Mud'.
- Ancient slavic tribes once inhabited the area, including those known as the Vyatichi. Archaeologists have uncovered much previous information about them – including their jewellery, weapons, burials, and so forth.
- The collections of the Tsaritsyno Museum number over 32,000 items of Russian and world art and culture.
- After the Russian Revolution, the area developed so-called kommunalki - communal apartments, in which several families would have their own room, but share the kitchen and bathroom space.
One day, when Her Majesty Catherine the Great was returning to nearby Kolomenskoye, her attention was taken by the picturesque views of this neighbouring area – and she immediately bought the land, with the idea of building a royal residence there.
Her Majesty did not care for the work architect Vassily Bazhenov did on her new project, and the buildings put up by his replacement, Matvei Kazakov burnt now during a fire. The result was that Her Majesty never lived at the estate at all, and preferred instead to live in St. Petersburg.
By the 20th century, Catherine's unwanted project had fallen into dilapidation but was then finally brought into order. Tsaritsyno is not just a lovely park and museum, but also a cultural centre. The now-completed palace building is a museum showing the history of Catherine's royal residences in Russia – as well as archaeological finds discovered in the park. Many art events are held at the palace, which today features one of Moscow's major concert-halls.
What to see
- The Great Bridge is an example of Russian engineering achievement. The bridge's arches imitate the gates of Gothic cathedrals.
- The Figured Bridge is an example of Old Russian architecture, with elements which recall parts of the walls of the Moscow Kremlin.
- The Cavalier Corpus has masonic symbols among its decor, and today houses the offices of the park's administration
- The Church of the Ikon of the Mother of God is the last remaining building of the former estate of the Kantemir noble family at this location.
- The Breadhouse was formerly the royal kitchens for the entire estate. The relief carvings on its facade show detail of food and cookery, bread and salt.
- The Great Palace was built to the orders of Empress Catherine the Great, but by accident of fate she never lived here. It was built in the 'Pseudo-Gothic' style (also known as 'Russian Gothic').
- The Small Palace originally operated as a tea-shop for 19th century park visitors, before it was turned into a guardpost for the park's security staff, and then falling into ruin. Today it is used as a temporary exhibition space.
- The Opera Theatre – also called the Medium Palace. This palace was apparently built for small official receptions, events of the Royal Court, and also for small-scale theatrical entertainments for the Empress.
- The Orangerie (or Hothouse). At one time they raised oranges, peaches, grapes and even pineapples here – along with melons, apricots, bay leaves, and olives. There were also myrtle and oleander. The hothouse has been partially restored.
- The Park has tropical ponds, pavilions, and observation platforms.
- The Musical Fountain has 12 different circles, 900 streams, and 3,312 underwater lights. The height, depth, and direction of the fountain jets changes every few seconds.
Guided Tour to the Tsaritsyno
You can book a tour in English on our website.