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Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Great Hall of the Agate Pavilion Opens at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Great Hall of the Agate Pavilion at Tsarskoye Selo opened today after an extensive restoration that now showcases the beauty of this room to visitors once again.

The Great Hall is the main room of the pavilion and once served as a place of entertainment and grand feasts during the reign of Empress Catherine II.

It was Catherine who commissioned her favourite architect, Charles Cameron to construction of the pavilion. The hall is made of artificial pink marble walls and columns, and highlighted with fireplaces, decorative carvings and parquet floors.

The restoration of three additional rooms in the Agate Pavilion are underway, and the building is expected to open as a museum once again in the spring of 2013.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:35 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2012 10:04 AM EDT
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Orangery at Tsarskoye Selo to be Restored
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The Large Orangery at Tsarskoye Selo.  

The restoration of the large orangery at Tsarskoye Selo is now underway. The 18th-century greenhouse is considered to be one of the finest examples of Russian architecture in the city.

Originally constructed in 1751, historians still debate over who was  the original architect of the building: Sawa Chevakinsky or Francesco Rastrelli. It was rebuilt in 1820 by Vasily Stasov and lost some of its original Baroque features at the time. 

The orangery was severely damaged during the Second World War, but was later restored. In 2010, the facade was repainted, so the current restoration is the first major work on the building since the 1950s. The building is currently under the administration of the St. Petersburg Agricultural University.

Local preservation groups have concerns about saving the building and that it may in fact be too late as the building is is in a terrible state of disrepair. The roof leaks, and the plaster work done in the 1950s was so poorly done that the walls still have traces of where the building was struck by shells during the last war. There are fears that the ceilings could collapse at any time. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:54 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2012 12:00 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
White Tower at Tsarskoye Selo Opens
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Guests arrive for the opening of the White Tower. Photo Credit: 

A ceremony marking the official opening of the White Tower too place at Tsarskoye Selo today. Situated near the Alexander Palace, it is the first pavilion in the Alexander Park to be restored.

Emperor Nicholas I ordered the construction of the White Tower between 1827-31 by the architect Adam Menalas. The emperor's sons used the tower to engage in military and gymnastic exercises.

The building was badly damaged during World War II, and fell into a terrible state of neglect and disrepair during the Soviet years, however, a decision was made to restore the tower in 1980. A further revival of the building was carried out in the 1990s in which retored many of the original elements of the facade, which included the balconies and terraces, decorative elements such as the sculptures of knights and lions. The original spiral staircase was replaced by a wooden staircase. The reconstruction of the White Tower was based on historic photographs in the archives of the Tsarskoye Selo Palace Museum.

The White Rower was a favourite spot for the children of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II to play, particularly during the long winter months. It was here that the children were seen sliding down the hills on tobaggons, often joined by their devoted father. These photographs have been preserved. 

Visitors can now view the restored interiors of the tower and climb the steps to an observation deck. The White Tower is the tallest pavilion in the park at nearly 38 meters (nearly 125 feet) in height, and offers commanding views of the Alexander and Catherine Parks, the nearby Feodorovsky Cathedral and the city of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo).

For more information on the history and the restoration of the White Tower at Tsarskoye Selo, please refer to the following articles (including vintage photographs) @ Royal Russia;

||| The White Tower to be Restored at Tsarskoye Selo (January 1st, 2012) |||

||| Restoring Tsarskoye Selo (May 16th, 2012) |||

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:33 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2012 7:52 AM EDT
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Thursday, 4 October 2012
Monument to Nicholas II at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


I have discovered a new monument to Emperor Nicholas II at Tsarskoye Selo.

The monument was erected in 2011 on the site of a chapel built near the Alexandrovskaya Railway Station. The chapel was a memorial to Alexander II erected after an assassination attempt on the emperor's life in Paris in 1867. It was  demolished by the local Soviets in 1949.

It was from the Alexandrovskya station that Emperor Nicholas II, his family and retinue departed Tsarskoye Selo and sent into exile in the early morning hours of 14 August [O.S. 01 August] 1917.

There are now three monuments to Russia's last tsar found at Tsarskoye Selo.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 04 October, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:58 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 6 October 2012 10:00 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Restoration of St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo as it looks today 

St. Sergius Church at Tsarskoye Selo was officially returned to the Russian Orthodox Church during a ceremony on September 21st.

The ROC announced that a full restoration of the church will take place, to be completed in 2014 which will mark the 700th anniversary of the saint.

St. Sergius Church as it looked in 1904 

The church was originally built in 1889. It was consecrated on December 2nd [O.S. November 19th] 1904 in the presence of Emperor Nicholas II, the Grand Dukes Vladimir and Sergei Alexandrovich, and the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.


The interior of the church included an iconostasis carved out of oak and an altar made of marble 

After the Russian Revolution the church was closed by the Bolsheviks, and its dome destroyed. The building was badly damaged during World War II. Repairs to the church were carried out in 1980, although the bell tower was demolished and the interiors destroyed.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 October, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:40 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2012 10:03 AM EDT
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Monday, 17 September 2012
Postcard from Russia No. 1 - Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Each time I visit St. Petersburg I am drawn to Tsarskoye Selo. I usually go in the morning, taking the train from the Vitebsky Railway Station. The 40-minute train ride delivers me to Detskoe Selo (soon to be renamed Tsarskoye Selo again), and from here I like to walk to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces.

Standing outside the Alexander Palace the golden cupolas of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral can be seen in the near distance. A short walk through the park will bring you to the gates of this magnificent and holy place which are closely associated with Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The cathedral consists of two churches one above the other. The upper church contains the main altar and an immense four-tier iconostasis, 11 metres tall, and adorned with vivid icons. The restoration of the iconostasis has taken many years to complete, its magnificence and beauty commands ones attention when entering the church.

The lower church is a "cave church" with an altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarov. The private prayer chapels of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna have also been restored. Originally, the lower church was adorned by genuine Russian icons and decorative plate. "Our cosy cave church," as Nicholas II referred to it, was consecrated on 27 November, 1912. The absence of natural light, low vaulted ceilings and the flickering lamps illuminating the age-old icons carried one away from the bustile of the outside world and encouraged thoughts of prayer.

The church suffered terribly under the Soviets. In 1991, however, the doors of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral were reopened to believers, the first of the buildings in the vast complex to be made accessible again. The restorations which began some 20 years ago continue to this day.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:42 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 8:05 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 5 September 2012
Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo Marks 100th Anniversary
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Entrance to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo
Celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo were held on September 2nd, which included a divine liturgy attended by local parishoners, visiting dignitaries and representatives of the St. Petersburg diocese.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1908, in  a meadow of the north-east corner of the Alexander Park, the location having been selected by Emperor Nicholas II.

The foundation of the Cathedral was laid on 20 August, 1909 in the presence of the Imperial family. The construction was financed by the tsar himself who contributed 150,000 gold rubles from his own personal funds.

The Feodorovsky Sovereign's Church became the household church of the last Russian Imperial family. The Cathedral consisted of two churches, the upper consisted of the main altar dedicated to the Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady and a side chapel consecrated in honour of the Moscow Metropolitan Alexis, the All-Russia Miracle Worker. The lower part of the building housed the Cave Church with the altar dedicated to Saint Serafim of Sarovsk the Miracle Worker, and the private chapel of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

The Feodorovsky Icon of Our Lady, the main icon of the Cathedral, was regarded as a symbol of the Romanov dynasty and the crown itself.

During the Soviet years the Cathedral was descrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was consecrated again on February 29th, 1992. Restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years, and once again, the Cathedral is the crown jewel of Tsarskoye Selo. Due to its history and association with the last Russian Imperial family, regular services are held in memory of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were murdered on July 17th, 1918.

Emperor Nicholas II is also commemorated with a bronze bust erected in the garden located in behind the Cathedral in 1993.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 05 September, 2012


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:52 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Tsarskoye Selo in 1941
Now Playing: Source: ITAR-TASS. Language: NA. Duration: 47 seconds.
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo

Dimitri Silbermann, a Berlin-based collector and researcher, has shared with the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve the digital copies of nineteen photographs from his private collection showing Tsarskoye Selo in about the end of 1941.

Mr Silbermann established that the original 6 x 9 cm pictures were made by an amateur photographer from the 58th Infantry Division, a unit of the German Army (Wehrmacht) under Generalleutnant Friedrich Altrichter then quartered in Uritsk (now South Western St Petersburg).

Being of historical importance, these photographs greatly compliment the Museum collection which so far has had wartime pictures taken as early as 1942, when a number of the Tsarskoye Selo monuments were already destroyed and the objects left behind were looted and moved to Germany.

The photos of 1941 show the Nazis posing complacently on the background of yet intact interiors of the Catherine Palace and having a coronation mockery scene possibly in one of the Antechambers. We can see the pre-war décors in the park pavilions, the later completely destroyed icons in the Palace Chapel, the bronze Hercules and Flora still on their pedestals at the Cameron Gallery.

Many details from the history of the German occupation of Pushkin town are unknown yet. Archived in hundreds of places around the world, the documents of that period are still waiting to be researched. That is why any photographic materials showing Tsarskoye Selo with its palaces and parks during 1941–44 are so important.

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve. 04 September, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:05 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2012 8:09 AM EDT
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Sunday, 26 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selo Station to Regain Historic Name
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


The administration of the Pushkin District have voted to restore the historic name of the main train station at Puskhin. The station will be renamed Tsarskoye Selo-Pushkin.

According to Tatiana Bogulyubova, Deputy Head of the Administration, "the return of the historic name will assist visitor's with orientation". During the Soviet years the train station was known as Detskoe Selo (Children's Village), the name of which has no association to Tsarskoye Selo or Pushkin whatsoever.

After the Russian Revolution, Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Detskoe Selo, and in 1937 was renamed Pushkin.

The renaming of one of Russia's oldest train station's also has the support of Russian Railways.

Tsarskoye Selo can be reached from the Vitebsky Railway Station in St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, there are local buses or taxis that will take visitors to the Catherine and Alexander Palaces, or it is a 45-minute walk.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:46 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 26 August 2012 7:07 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Tsarskoye Selos' Gostiny Dvor to be Auctioned
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Gostiny Dvor in Tsarskoye Selo as it looked in the early 20th century 

One of the greatest architectural treasures of Russian retailing is being put up for auction. The neoclassical Gostiny Dvor shopping complex in the town of Pushkin is ‘little brother’ to another in St Petersburg. The starting price is $7.7 million.

­At 10,000 square feet this is no mega-mall. It was built in 1866 during the reign of Emperor Alexander II, and houses thirteen shop units.

The town of Pushkin is also home to the former residence of the imperial family, the Tsarskoye Selo is a protected UNESCO site. 

The new owner of the mall will have to agree to preserve the historical nature of the building.

Gostiny Dvor is the Russian version of a department store, with a selection of individual stores occupying separate sections of the building.  

In the 19th Century, they were constructed in every large Russian town with St Petersburg’s Gostiny Dvor one of the first shopping arcades in the world.

© Russia Today. 14 August, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 11:10 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:18 AM EDT
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