Tours in St Petersburg or Moscow are never complete until you visit one of those royal parks.
Admire “Russian Gothic” of the Grand Palace, picturesque landscape that was the venue for open-air theater, and the fairy-tale bridges that are “theater performance” in themselves.
Here are 37 reasons why Tsaritsyno is a Top choice for our tours.
However, if you’re more focused on downtown of Moscow, tour bus Moscow would be the best option for you, as Tsaritsino is a bit far away from the center.
Facts about Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve
- Tsaritsyno is the monument of the so-called “Russian Gothic”, unique in its style and the largest pseudo-Gothic building of the 18th century.
- The area, which later became Tsaritsyno royal estate, has been known since the end of the 16th century as the patrimony of Tsarina Irina, sister of Boris Godunov.
- One of unique features of Tsaritsyno park is that there are burial mounds of Vyatichi tribe belonging to 11th-12th centuries. Since ancient times it was inhabited by the Slavic tribes.
- In 1712 the village was called the Black Mud and was donated by Peter I to the Moldavian Prince Kantemir.
- In 1775 the Empress Catherine II bought the village and called it Tsaritsyno.
- It was the incredible beauty of the nature of the area that charmed Catherine II.
- In 1776 under the direction of architect Vasily Bazhenov began the construction of the Tsaritsyno Palace complex, which was to become a monument to the Russian victory over Turkey in 1774.
- Catherine II expressed several wishes: the building had to be in the “Moorish” or “Gothic style”, and pay a special attention to the landscape of the part – the two fashion trends of that time.
- Tsaritsyno landscape park with the palace complex, was one of the first landscape parks in Russia.
- This project was the first mission of this kind for a Russian architect: from the time of Peter I (1682-1721) the construction of the imperial residences were mainly completed by foreigners.
- By 1785, the construction of the imperial residence was completed. Catherine II, she decided to get acquainted with the construction and arrived in Moscow.
- The picturesque nature of the architectural ensemble was reinforced with striking combination of red brick and white stone details. Two palaces were connected by a gallery with openwork arched gates.
- Red brick and white stone of Tsaritsyno Palace indicates a kinship with the Moscow baroque building traditions of the Moscow Kremlin.
- The desire to reveal the natural beauty of the stone and brick combination and rejection of finishing plaster was unusual for that time. Bazhenov went against the canons of classical aesthetics.
- Vasily Bazhenov was so pleased with his work and brought his entire family to show the Palace to the Empress. Catherine walked their new possession and ordered the destruction.
- Catherine II inspected the completed residence and got extremely angry and disappointed: the arches seemed to be too heavy, the roof was too low, too tight boudoirs , too narrow stairs. She decided that the Palace is not designed for life.
- Bazhenov was sacked, and a new architect was commissioned … his disciple, Matvey Kazakov, what really wounded Bazhenov. There are many theories as to why the Empress did not like the Palace: Masonic connections of the architect, his rebellious spirit, or simply too much spending.
- In the XIX century Tsaritsyno Palace was destroyed, some buildings were covered with moss, overgrown with shrubs. The estate looked so beautiful and heart touching that some people believed Bazhenov hand’t completed the Palace so that it would be convenient for Empress grandchildren to climb the ruins.
- Tsaritsyno was the largest pseudo-Gothic building of the 18th century in Europe and is the only palace complex, designed in this style.
- For more than two hundred years a huge Tsaritsyno Palace was the subject of great intrigues, speculation and gossips.
- In 1856, at the beginning of the reign of Alexander II, Tsaritsyno park attracted the visitors with tea houses and was famous for tea drinking.
- Another feature of Bazhenov’s ensemble is the constant visual interaction of its buildings. The architect placed the objects in such a way that they create “duets” and “trios” from many viewpoints. Buildings also interact harmoniously with the landscape, the water surface of ponds and parks.
- Already at the end of the 18th century Tsaritsyno ensemble became known as “theater architecture” – partly because of the spectacular compositions and unusual design of buildings that was seen as a decoration for a fabulous performance.
- The Big Bridge through a ravine is the largest surviving bridge of the 18th century. The bridge gives the impression of wholeness and harmony, massive construction is artistically decorated and visually simplified. It has unique artistic features that fully represented Bazhenov’s “theater architecture”: mimic portals of Gothic cathedrals, dormer, rosettes, ornamental belt-zigzag under the eaves.
- Bazhenov’s Masonic ideas are expressed in a number of decorative details of Figured Bridge: Masons refer to the symbolism of the sun’s rays framing semicircular arch (an allusion to the All-Seeing Eye – Christian symbol, also became one of the main Masonic symbols), and the crossed swords in the squares, symbolizing fidelity of Masonic fraternity and justice.
- Figured bridge is a red-brick bridge, built on the principle of the viaduct, decorated with white stone crosses of St. George. The semicircular towers are completed with the decor of “swallowtails” on the motive of the Kremlin walls. Bazhenov was a connoisseur of the pre-Petrine Moscow architecture: all the details are varied and colorful, similar to the buildings of 16th-17th centuries.
- Its beautiful arch, plastered over with trees and effectively thrown over the road reminds us of chivalry times. Figured bridge represents an unrealized dream of the Bazhenov romantic castle on the lake among the perennial trees, the castle with a chain of old legends, fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty, the evil kings and the young prince.
- The ruined tower of Tsaritsyno is in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape, its observation deck offers a scenic panoramic views of the park. The staircase leading to the site was called “devil’s staircase” or “devil’s hill”: for it was easy to climb, but it is not easy to go down.
- The slope of the hill, coming down from the Decorative Pavilion “Nerastankino” to the pond was the venue for the “air theater” (open-air theater) during the stay of Catherine II. Beautiful landscapes became a natural backdrop.
This was one of the most romantic places in the park.
- Tsaritsyno “Temple of Ceres” was the first establishment of its kind in Russia. On this hill, in June 1775 there was a tent where the Empress rested and watched holiday hay celebrations were held on the nearby field, which can now be seen from the gazebo.
- Upper Tsaritsyno pond is the most beautiful in the cascade. Its area is about 10 hectares and a maximum depth is 2 meters. The pond is formed by the damming of rivers Gorodnya (Gorodenka), Yazvenko and Cherepishki (Cherepishenki).
- The cascade of Tsaritsynsky ponds formed during 16th-18th centuries. The oldest pond is Borisov pond, the most remote from the palace and the park ensemble, which appeared in the reign of Boris Godunov
- In 1998, the park was expanded and it was united with Borisov ponds, Birulevsky forest park and Birulevsky arboretum, Yazvenko river valley and the valley of the Borisov pond. The total area of the park is now 1.317 ha.
- Vanished in the middle of the 19th century, the statues of Minerva, Diana, Flora, Dryads were revived in 2007.
- Tsaritsyno is the largest concert hall in Moscow, you can enjoy concerts of classical and jazz music in the halls of the Grand Palace and the Atrium Bread House.
- Tsaritsyno Park holds a hippie festival every year on 1 June.
- Purified ponds, hand built park trails, special red carpet lined with flowers. Another miracle of Tsaritsyno park is an ultramodern fountain with 3000 lights and a 1000 jets dancing polonaises and minuets in the evenings.
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