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The imperial estate of Tsarskoye Selo, which means "village of the tsar", is located a few kilometers from St. Petersburg, and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Russia.

In 1937, the estate was officially named Pushkin, to mark the centenary of the death of the great Russian poet and writer, who attended high school and later composed some of his works here.

The main attraction of Tsarskoye Selo is the massive Catherine Palace. One of the largest royal palaces in the world, it is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after the death of her husband.

Originally a modest two-floor building commissioned by Peter in 1717, it was restored starting from 1743 by his daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who used it as a summer residence. Bartolomeo Rastrelli, chief architect of the imperial court, was given orders to demolish the original building and build a new one, and to design the huge surrounding gardens in French style.

The Rococo palace was completed in 1756, with a central building which was 365 meters long and had a circumference of almost 1 kilometer.  The blue and white facades were richly decorated by the German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the interior. It took over 100 kilograms of gold just to decorate the exterior of the palace!

Further changes were also made by Catherine the Great. A lover of ancient and neoclassical art, the empress commissioned the Scottish architect Charles Cameron for the renovation of the interior of one wing in Neoclassical style, as well as the construction of the empress's personal apartments. In the same period, Cameron added a number of buildings to the park. These included the Admiralty, which housed the palace boats, the Chesme Column, dedicated to Russia’s victories against the Turks, and the beautiful Marble Bridge.


An interesting fact: in 1811, Alexander I opened a high school next to Catherine's Palace and among the first thirty students was the great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin. Also on the estate, in addition to the school, you can visit the house where the writer lived in 1831.

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