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The portal to Ekaterina's era of Palaces and balls: Tsarskoye Selo on the island of Pushkin

The luxury of imperial times, magnificent dresses and crinolines, refined jewellery and rich halls in the light of candles, the true romanticism of the last centuries has mysterious magnetism and steadily admires in historical movies and reconstruction. But totally it is possible to experience all greatness and magnificence of an era only having plunged into it completely, and we suggest you to make it in Tsarskoye Selo. That is a memorial estate in which time turned back!

There is a well-known Catherine Palace which is not conceding on beauty to Peterhof and a unique gift to Peter I from the Prussian king, the Amber room, is hidden in it. You can walk along richly decorated corridors and halls, to see a dress of queens and furniture of the Palace as it was in imperial times, and then walk on the picturesque parks and unique bridges created in opposite styles, from the Italian pergolas to the Chinese motives!

How to reach Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg

You can reach Moscow Square and at "House of Soviets" get on minibuses No. 342 and 545. From Zvezdnaya or Kupchino stations it is possible to reach by bus No. 186. If you prefer railway transport you can reach Vitebsky railway station and take the train to the Detskoe Selo station, and then change on buses No. 371, 382, or on minibuses No. 371, 377 and 382 to the museum.

On weekdays we recommend to use share taxis or bus as they stop directly at the museum. During week-end it is easier to reach it by train. Tsarskoye Selo is a popular vacation spot of residents of St. Petersburg, and it will be difficult to get to the minibus or the bus because of load of a route.

A little history: how did Tsarskoye Selo appeared

The residence of the Russian monarchs was located in Tsarskoye Selo ever since gaining these territories at Swedes and finishing board of the last imperial couple before revolution. For this period not only refined palaces, posadas and other constructions in various styles of different nationalities and eras were built, but also unique gardens. All these constructions were made with the assistance of architects, decorators and artists famous for the whole world!

After the revolution the territory of Tsarskoye Selo was nationalized and turned into the museum. However, the subsequent World War II caused a serious damage to a complex because of what it was restored for a long time. However, the keepers of the museum managed to save a set of exhibits thanks to their own courage and resourcefulness. In 1983 the park palace complex was awarded the status of the reserve.

The most beautiful and most known parks of Tsarskoye Selo

Tsarskoye Selo is not only palaces and monuments, but also parks and gardens, unique on its beauty. Even legends go abroad of them! Two landscape gardening ensembles are the most popular and, probably, the most beautiful to be called:

Catherine Park

The park impresses with the sizes. It occupies more than hundred hectares and includes the Old garden created by masters Roozen and Fokht, the landscape Formal garden created by masters Bush and Ilyin and also the Big pond dividing two parts of the park. The park received the name in honour of the empress Ekaterina the First and was founded in the eighteenth century, and then nationalized in 1918 after the revolution. The garden adjoins a lock facade in style of the Russian baroque constructed on Zemtsov, Chevakinsky and Rastrelli's project who pored over sculptural registration of a facade.

Aleksandrovsky park

The huge park was stretched in the territory of almost two hundred hectares and consists of a regular part of the New garden created on Girard's project and the Landscape park with three ponds and bulk hills. In the West the park adjoins the river embankment Kuzminki partitioned by a dam. The park adjoins the palace constructed in the classical style on the Kvarengi project in 1792-1796.

What surely the tourist should look at in Tsarskoye Selo

Catherine Palace

Grandiose construction in style of the Russian baroque impresses with the sizes and richness of a decor. Even one facade already takes your breath away, and internal furniture surpasses all possible expectations at all! More than hundred kilograms of pure gold left on just gilding of a facade!

The big hall and gold suite of ceremonial halls look magnificently and elegantly, and the amber room revived by efforts of the best restorers of the country looks really magically! Each visitor can feel a tiny butterfly in a warm gold cocoon!

All interior of the palace abounds with rare and unique objects of art and life, and literally breathes Ekaterina's era of magnificent balls and magnificent receptions. From outside the palace seems just titanic and it seems that the same as the Hermitage, it is impossible to run or walk it all over. But actually it is possible to see the museum completely with an excursion approximately for an hour if not to be late for a long time at each exhibit.

And still we advise to arm with the audio guide, the guide and to release imagination in its own flight. Only this way it is possible to enjoy the viewing of an exposition really. Only imagine: along these rich corridors the empress Elizabeth, who adored gloss and luxury walked. There were fifteen thousand of gorgeous dresses in her clothes! Imagine a strict reproach of the empress Catherine the Great who nicknamed the palace "the shaken-up cream"!

Catherine Park

As well as any palace, Ekaterina's palace is impossible to imagine without a beautiful park with graceful sculptures, shady avenues and sprawling bridges. The park consists of two parts: old one settled by Peter I, and a new one, that later became the Formal garden was put a bit later. In the park pavilions Hermitage, "Agate Rooms" and "Grotto" and also an entertaining Waterslide were established.

In the territory of the park there are tens of architectural monuments – from palaces and monuments to pavilions, original bridges and constructions in various exotic styles giving a special colour to the park.

Aleksandrovsky park

One more amazing park where you can walk for hours, enjoying unique sculptures, bridges as if brought from different parts of the world, and the graceful constructions which are organically entered in a landscape.

Tsarskoselsky Lyceum

In this building from 1811 to 1817 the great poet was trained, started friendship which than was carried by through all life, and wrote the first verses which became well-known for the whole world. The situation in which lyceum students of the first release, including the Big hall, the Newspaper room, classes and bedrooms of pupils studied and had a rest is completely recreated in the museum.

Pushkin's dacha (country-house)

This is one more place in the village connected with life and works of the great poet. In this one-stored cosy building the atmosphere of Pushkin times and the main situation which is carefully restored on memoirs of contemporaries have perfectly remained. The idea to get this house came to the poet in 1831, and he rented eight rooms in Kitayeva's house where he spent eight months with his young wife.

Military chamber

It is one of the rarest monuments of the neorussian architecture and the only museum of World War I in Russia. The building was built in 1914 and represents a quite complicated system of constructions reminding a labyrinth. Initially the museum of the Russian troops had to be located in the building. However, after the war with Germany it was decided to arrange the museum of memory of a feat of the Russian soldiers.

Arsenal

The Imperial collection of weapon collected by means of the State Hermitage is placed here. The building was put in 1834 on the project of the architect Menelas, the native of Scotland. The arsenal is constructed in neogothic style and is hidden in the depth of the Aleksandrovsky park as if a miniature of the ancient castle. In the central room of the Arsenal there is a big octagonal Hall of knights in which the best collection of weapon of Nikolay the First and also remarkable samples of weapon from Europe and equipment of the soldiers of 16-17 centuries is exposed.

Fedorovsky town

This town in the past was the whole complex in which there were both the inhabited, and farm buildings in the neorussian style which remind the posada of fortifications. The construction of the complex was going for five years since 1813 on a sample of the Imperial palace in Kolomna, and in the end the priests and military had to lodge in it.

Babolovsky park

From the very beginning this lonely park was conceived for silent walks and easy trips in crews therefore it significantly differs from magnificent Ekaterina's and unusual Aleksandrovsky parks. The swamps were drained, several picturesque lawns made, a set of trees and bushes planted and glades for walks laid for the creation of the park.

Imperial farm

This picturesque complex is in the Fermsky park near Military chamber. All buildings of a farm are executed in one English Gothic style and in due time it was the favourite place of Alexander the First. The most thoroughbred cattle here was removed under his management. There is a horse complex with 20 well-groomed and full horses ready to give a ride to visitors of the park.

The interesting and informative facts from history of Tsarskoye Selo

  • Tsarskoye Selo had many names

In old times the land on which Tsarskoye Selo is located now were called Saaris moisio, in the meaning of "the grange on the sublime place" (finnish.) In 1609 the lands were occupied by the Swedes who renamed the Finnish settlement in Saris hoff. After that the Northern war happened, and the village passed to the Russian Empire, having received one more name – the Saar grange (after that the foreign "grange" was finally replaced with a simple Russian "village"). In 1710 Peter I presented these lands and adjacent villages to Marta Skavronskaya, who later became Ekaterina the First. On sounding and sense of the name Sarskoye Selo quickly became Tsarskoye Selo. In postrevolutionary time the settlement was renamed into Children's (in the settlement there were many child care facilities), and then in 1937 the territory received a surname of the great poet – Pushkin. Today the memorial estate Tsarskoye Selo is a part of the island of Pushkin.

  • The unique architectural collection

In Ekaterina's and Aleksandrovsk parks the set of monuments of architecture in styles of different eras and the people is placed. Palaces and monuments in Gothic and Chinese style, the Turkish bath and gardens with marble fountains and pergolas in the Italian style and also monumental Gothic gate were located here.

  • The amber room was brought to Tsarskoye Selo on hands

The Prussian emperor Friedrich Wilhelm wanted to fix the union with Peter I, and as a friendly gesture sent him the real treasure: the cabinet from the Baltic amber. Panels and details of an office were so fragile and graceful that boxes could not be transported by vehicles. The amber could simply crumble. Therefore, the boxes were brought on hands from St. Petersburg where they were unloaded from the ship, to Tsarskoye Selo.

  Unfortunately, during the World War II fascists stole a treasure and transported it to Konigsberg where it was gone without trace. Today the new Amber room with partially restored interior is open for tourists.

  • The icon saved Tsarskoye Selo from the fire

There is a truthful legend that on the eve of the crowning Elizabeth prayed at night before an icon of the Mother of God which she esteemed and placed its image in court Znamensk church. In 1812 there was a fire in the palace. The wind inflated a flame and tried to throw it on other constructions, and the icon had to be taken out urgently from church. It was turned to face to the fire, and the emperor begged that sacred saved his house. At the very same time wind replaced the direction and the fire soon went out.

Another story happened in 1931 when the empire was occupied by epidemic of killing cholera. Then inhabitants of Tsarskoye Selo served a prayer at an icon of the Mother of God and closed "a protective ring", having bypassed with an icon around the village. The dreadful disease did not get into the city.

  • Complicated lyceum study of Pushkin

Pushkin could not become the student of Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum at all, the number of future students was strictly limited: not more than 30 people. But the young poet was lucky! His uncle was well familiar with the founder of lyceum Mikhail Speransky, and Sasha Pushkin was taken on training. The poet wrote more than one hundred poems during his study. However, the situation with learning new sciences was far more difficult. The students should have passed fifteen examinations to finish the training, and Pushkin appeared on one of the last places in the list of progress. The poet could brag of good achievements only in fencing both the Russian and French languages.

  • Surprising rings of lyceum students

Each student from the first release of Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum was handed for memory a pig-iron ring cast from splinters of a lyceum bell which was broken after the end of the first final examinations. The rings represented two hands weaved in handshake, and graduates tremblingly stored these relics all life. By the way, the ceremony of dissecting of a bell became in lyceum tradition.

  • First Russian railroad

In 1837 the first driver of the Gerster engine led in the first flight by the Russia's first railroad passenger structure. Rails connected Capital Vitebsky railway station & Tsarskoye Selo that allowed a reigning couple to travel quickly between residences.

  • The first electric street lighting

Tsarskoye Selo was the real cradle of technological progress of Russia. Electricity appeared exactly here for the first time. Moreover, it happened 10 years before it has appeared in Saint-Petersburg. The first city power plant was started in 1887, and streets began to light 120 electric lamps. Needless to say that none of European cities of the street were provided with any artificial light at that time!

  • The first motor rally in Russia

11 years later after the start of street lighting on the section of Volkhonskoye Highway from Aleksandrovskaya to Strelna the empire's first motor rally took place. The drivers had an opportunity to be trained at Imperial driver's school at a palace garage. The ten-year-old son of the emperor to whom a small Peugeot car for driving on the park and corridors of the palace was presented became the youngest driver.

  • Execution of the archpriest for a religious procession

Ioann Kochurov was the second priest in city church since 1916, and he was present at collision at Tsarskoye Selo of Bolsheviks with the Cossack troops. Red fired at the city, and the father Ioann passed with other attendants a religious procession under bullets in a prayer about the fight termination. Day later the Red Army won the village and arrested the priest, and then executed him in Tsarskoye Selo airfield in the face of the son.

  • World renowned carnival capital

In June, 1996 first and the most large-scale carnival in the country passed. In 2000 it became known far outside Russia and was admitted to Association of the European carnival cities. The carnival is carried out annually and bears the name "City of Muses" The guests from different countries participate in a procession. Concerts, competitions and a traditional motor rally are held.

  • Creative cradle of the Russian art

Pushkin, Lomonosov, Karamzin, Saltykov-Shchedrin, Gumilev, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Tolstoy, Belyaev, Repin, Rastrelli, Cameron, Kvarnegi, Monigetti, Valeriani and a great number of other poets, writers, artists, composers and architects created the masterpieces in Tsarskoye Selo.

  • Gallery of crowned persons

The portrait hall of Catherine Palace was decorated on Rastrelli project and became one of the first art galleries in Russia. Ceremonial portraits of princely and imperial persons are executed by the Russian, French and Italian masters, and the gilded suite strikes imagination.

  • Fight of art against weapon during the Great Patriotic War

In military years the staff of the museum in every way tried to save monuments from vandalism of robbers. For example, they managed to dig a monument to Pushkin and a bronze figure from the "girl with a jug" fountain to the earth and to hide from attention of Germans. Fascists tried to dump in a pond by tanks the Chesmensky column devoted to military victories. The mission failed, and only bas-reliefs on a column pedestal suffered.

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