Pushkin

 The town of Pushkin is situated 20 kilometers from Saint Petersburg. Formerly the  Tsar's Village, it used to be the imperial residence. In this town famous people such as, A.S.Pushkin, N.M.Karamzin, M.Yu.Lermontov, A.N.Tolstoy, A.AAkhmatova used to live.

In the early 18th century Peter the Great granted Menshikov a small county estate. It was then bequeathed to the tsar's wife Ekaterina Alekseevna. Beginning in 1724 it was called, Tsarskoe Selo. In 1718 the construction of a small palace with a garden began and by the middle of the XVIII century Tsarskoe Selo had become the parade residence.

The project of the Bolshoi Catherine Palace was started by M.Zemtsov and A.Kvastsov. In 1748 the construction work was headed by the architect V.Rastrelli. He developed a general plan of construction of the palace and park. The facade with a height of more than 300 m is embellished with columns, figures of Atlantis, cartouches with coats of arms and openwork balcony railings. The suite of the golden parade halls along with the widely known Amber Hall has impressed many of the architects' contemporaries. The palace is surrounded with picturesque parks adorned with marble sculptures (by masters of the Venetian school such as P.Baratta, A.Tarsia, D.Bonazza). 

The Ekateriniskiy and Alexandrovskiy parks surrounding the palace on both sides are easily seen from windows of the parade halls. The parks contain various pavilions.

Not far from the palace, near the Hermitage alley, there are two pavilions in the simple classic style, these are : the Upper and Lower Baths designed by the architect I.Neelov. On the shore of the pond the architect also erected the Admiralty. Decorative brickwork, lancet windows, and crenellated turrets contribute to the striking uniqueness of this edifice.

The Cameron Gallery was intended particularly for viewing and walking about the park and was designed by the architect Ch. Cameron. The peculiar beauty of the gallery is reflected in its sculpture : bronze busts of the ancient philosophers, poets, political and military leaders.

Alexandrovskiy park contains the most remarkable structure - the Alexander Palace. The Alexander Palace was build by Quarenghi in 1792. Catherine the Great wanted him to built a second, smaller palace at Tsarskoye Selo for her beloved grandson, the future Emperor Alexander I. The classical austerity of the Alexander Palace is in contrast with its Baroque neighbour.
A graceful yellow and white two -story building was made up of the central part and two wings. The main decorative feature is the double row of columns on the Northern facade. The Palace is quite wide, it has over one hundred rooms warmed by multicolored porcelain stoves, these caused the mingling of the smell of burning wood with the fragrant scent coming from smoking pots of incense. Parquet floors were covered with rich Oriental rugs. The rooms were furnished in mahogany, marble, gold, crystal, silk and velvet. The state apartments and formal chambers were clustered in the central building. The ministers of court and ladies-and gentlemen -in-waiting had apartments in one of the two wings.
Though the palace was built for Alexander, he preferred the Catherine Palace, but Nicholas I and Alexander III spent much time at the Alexander Palace. It was here that Nicholas II brought his bride in the spring of 1895.
It became their home for twenty-two years. Every season Empress Alexander filled the Palace with flowers. In spring and summer they were brought from the gardens and greenhouses around St.Petersburg. In winter from Crimea by trains. 

And it was here, where Nicholas II and Alexander spent the last night at Tsarskoye Selo on August 13th 1917. After the October Revolution of 1917 the Imperial apartments were preserved intact as a unique Soviet Museum for some time, but during World War II the palace was badly damaged. Much effort has been devoted to the repair of the palace.

Tsarskoe Selo also holds the Lyceum, a school for the children of the nobility. It was located in the four-story wing of the Catherine Palace reconstructed for the educational purposes by V.Stasov. From 1811 to 1817 it had also been the place of Pushkin's education. 

The motif of the Lyceum and its beautiful parks influenced all of Pushkin's works. At the moment the Lyceum houses the Pushkin Memorial Museum.