Founded in 1710 and located near St Petersburg, this city used to be the residence of the emperors and empresses of the Russian empire. Tsarskoe Selo means in Russian “Village of the Tsar”, it was renamed during the Soviet period into Pushkin, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of the famous Russian poet.
The land of the future “Village of the Tsar” was first given by Peter the Great to his second wife Marta Skavronskaya, also known as Catherine I. She started the construction of a palace that would be later known as Catherine Palace. Her daughter, Empress Elizabeth I, rebuild the palace into a much bigger and more comfortable one in the flamboyant rococo style. Her successor Catherine II started the construction of the Alexander Palace for her grandson (his name was Alexander as you probably guessed). It then became the summer residence of the Tsars, and in 1905 Nicolas II moved to the Alexander Palace with his family to get away from the growing discontent in the capital (St Petersburg at the time).
After the revolution, both palaces and their parks were turned into museums. It is now one of the most visited places in Russia and a must see if you are in St Petersburg. You can book a guided tour of this city here!
The palaces host some of the finest pieces of art and architecture of Russia. In Catherine’s palace, you can stroll in the impressive great hall or light gallery. This vast reception hall covers all the width of the palace, Its windows, placed on both sides of the room, magnificently enlight it during the day (hence the name). But the real jewel of this palace is the amber room. Totally covered with amber, gold, and mirrors (you love it or you hate it!) it used to be considered as the 8th marvel of the world but it was unfortunately destroyed or lost during World War II. A replica, made using original drawings and old black and white photos, can be seen today. It took 24 years and a lot of skilled amber craftsmen to recreate it.
Alexander’s Palace is not as famous as its neighbor, but still very interesting. It is the last residence of the last emperor and his family before the Bolshevik sent them to Ekaterinburg where they would be executed. The interior is very different from all the other palaces you will see (or have already seen!) in Russia. The then-modern art-nouveau style, chosen by the Tsarina Alexandra Fedorovna, was not seen as so “imperial”. In this palace you can learn about the daily life of the last emperor and his family.
Both palaces possess a great garden where you can walk in the steps of the Russian emperors. If after this you don’t want to go to Russia and visit this amazing place, I don’t know what to do. But if you are willing to, then you can book a guided tour here!
Check out for other guided tour on our website TSAR VISIT!