Wednesday, August 30, 2006

2802 Trip Tale: Tsarskoe Selo

This was the Tsars' summer residence, having been originally built for Peter the Great's Lithuanian bride, Ekaterina Alexeevna (became Empress Catherine I) in the early 18th century on land formerly controlled by Sweden. The last Tsar, Nicholas II, was born and lived here 22 years. Some of this family's private rooms have been restored. After the Communist revolution it became a museum, and in 1937 the town around it was renamed Pushkin, in honor of Russia's famed poet. Each monarch who lived here remodeled and changed things so there is a long list of architects and decorators. Catherine the Great was particularly interested in the gardens and used German and English designers.

Tsarskoe Selo (Царское Село) was virtually destroyed by the Nazis in WWII, and horses were stabled in some of the buildings. It is only partially restored, but is so huge it can accomodate throngs of visitors--as our little G-6 tour discovered.

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