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Tsarskoye Selo

Tsarskoye Selo – or 'The Royal Village' – means not only the former Imperial country residence, but also a substantial literary enclave of Russia. It is a major tourism destination, to which hundreds of thousands of visitors come each year. The reasons they come will be described in this article.

Fascinating Facts

  • The location which is now Tsarskoye Selo was formerly situated among Izhorian Finns – at which time it was known in Izhorian as Saari Mois – 'the cape on elevated ground'. After the end of the Great Northern Wars, the location was called Saarskoye Selo. To celebrate victory in the wars, the first of a sequence of royal residences was begun here – and thus Saarskoye became Tsarskoye – the Tsar's, or Royal Village.
  • So fragile were the component details of the palace's Amber Room, that they were brought from St. Petersburg by hand. It was the only way they could be brought to the palace without breaking them along the way.
  • The parks around Tsarskoye Selo feature over 100 architectural works in different styles and from different epochs. As well as the palaces themselves, there are their many palaces, pavilions, monuments, and even buildings in Gothic and Chinese styles.
  • Russia's first passenger stream-train service was a private line running from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo. The first trains began running in 1837.
  • Tsarskoye Selo became Europe's first fully electrified town. Electricity was supplied there a full ten years earlier than in St. Petersburg itself.

History

The Izhorian village of Saarskoye was given by Russian Tsar Peter the Great to his beloved wife and Empress, Marta Skavronskaya. This gift sparked the beginning of the construction of the suburban palace here. However, the town never imagined the development plans which lay ahead.

It was with the accession to the Russian throne of Peter the Great's daughter Elizaveta as Empress that Tsarskoye Selo became a royal residence. The latter half of the eighteenth century saw the onset of the fully-fledged ceremonial style of Russian baroque. The symbol of this development was the building of a Hermitage – not to be confused with the one in St. Petersburg – for Empress Elizaveta, by the great Italian architect Rastrelli.

It was with the accession to the Russian throne of Peter the Great's daughter Elizaveta as Empress that Tsarskoye Selo became a royal residence. The latter half of the eighteenth century saw the onset of the fully-fledged ceremonial style of Russian baroque. The symbol of this development was the building of a Hermitage – not to be confused with the one in St. Petersburg – for Empress Elizaveta, by the great Italian architect Rastrelli.

New developments began to appear at Tsarskoye Selo in the 19th century. Emperor Alexander I founded the Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo – an academy which would train a new generation of administrators for state service. However, the plans went rather differently – instead of producing civil servants, the Lyceum instead provided education for major figures in the arts. Students included not only Russia's great poet Pushkin, but also Anna Akhmatova, Gumilev, and Mandelstam. The spirit of Tsarskoye Selo pervaded their education, and subsequent output.

With the onset of the Russian Revolution, the town's name changed from Tsarskoye Selo to Detskoye Selo – Children's Village. Then, on the anniversary of Pushkin's death, in 1937 it was decided to rename it once again - as Pushkin – the modern name which has survived to the present day.

What to see

  • The Catherine Park. The main features for visitors are the Catherine Palace itself, the Cameron Galleries, the Hermitage Pavilion, and the Marble Bridge. Even just these few sights will leave you with the idea of a marvellous royal utopia.
  • The museum-lyceum of Alexander Pushkin.
  • The attractive grounds of the Alexander Park, which include the Alexander Palace, the Great Chinese Bridge, the Dragon Bridge, the Chinese Village.

Guided Tour to Tsarskoe Selo

You can book a tour in English on our website.

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