Tsaritsyno Palace And Park In Moscow. Travel Guide

by Anna de Nord
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Tsaritsyno is a historical museum complex in Moscow. The main sights of the museum are the Tsaritsyno palace and Tsaritsyno parks. Let’s discover what to see in this former residence of Russian tsars.

Tsaritsyno Palace in Moscow

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WHY TSARITSYNO IS AN EXCEPTIONAL PLACE TO VISIT IN MOSCOW

Tsaritsyno is a palace and park ensemble in the south of Moscow, founded at the behest of Empress Catherine II in 1776. It is the only palace complex in Russia made in the “pseudo-Gothic” style.

If you have been to Saint Petersburg, you certainly know about the splendid residences of Russian emperors situated there. Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo are the most famous of them. Russian emperors spent winters in Saint Petersburg. During summer months, they preferred to stay in the suburban summer palaces surrounded by marvellous parks and wild forests. 

Tsaritsyno was supposed to become one of the first landscape parks in Russia outside of St Petersburg. For twenty years, two of the most famous Russian architects of that era, Vasily Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov, worked on the creation of the imperial residence.

Monument to Vasily Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov, the architects of Tsaritsyno
Monument to Vasily Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov, the architects of Tsaritsyno

Catherine The Great Orders To Build A New Residence In Moscow…

The construction of the residence began in 1776. Russian Empress Catherine the Great decided to build a new “entertainment residence” in Moscow. It should include a palace for the Empress and her family, buildings for the court nobility, houses for servants, a landscape park, and park pavilions. In other words, the project of Tsaritsyno was a project of a whole town!

The first architect of Tsaritsyno was Vasily Bazhenov. The construction of the Tsaritsyno ensemble was the project of life for this extraordinarily talented Russian architect. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a life drama for him.

And Then She Decides To Demolish It!

The palace complex has been under construction for many years. And after ten years, Bazhenov almost finished the work. But Catherine the Great decided that she did not like the residence! The Empress dismissed the architect, ordered to demolish the palace and to build a new one. 

Matvey Kazakov, the second architect of Tsaritsyno Palace, did not succeed either. The new construction lasted for ten more years, until 1796. In 1796, Catherine the Great passed. Her son, future Emperor Paul I, ordered to stop all construction works in Tsaritsyno. It is known that the relationship between Catherine II and her son was tense. After the death of his mother, Paul I decided to put an end to the projects of Catherine the Great.

As a result, Tsaritsyno became an imperial residence where emperors have never lived. Unfortunately, the architects did not finish the interiors of the palace. Thus, we don’t even know how exactly they should look.

• If you want to know more about the history and to explore in depth, book a tour of Tsaritsyno the with a private guide.


WHAT TO SEE IN TSARITSYNO

Tsaritsyno is a unique place. 

In Russia, Emperors usually invited foreign architects to build palaces. The Tsaritsyno ensemble was created exclusively by Russian architects: Vasily Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov. You will find the monument to them not far from the Royal Palace.

Travel Tip
Count to spend 4-5 hours in Tsaritsyno if you want to see the main sights.

Note About The Restoration Of The Museum

I have to mention that during the Soviet times the Tsaritsyno ensemble was in a state of disrepair. After years of neglect, the buildings (including the Grand Palace) turned into ruins.

It was only at the beginning of the 2000ies that Moscow authorities decided to bring Tsaritsyno back to life. The restoration gave rise to intense disputes between the city authorities and historians. 

Unfortunately, the restoration project did not take into consideration the significant requirements of historians and architects. Many historic buildings have been modified to serve new goals of the museum. 

The restoration finished in 2007. Since then, the park became a popular spot for Moscovites. 


I have been to Tsaritsyno on a cloudy day. Even with the lack of sunlight, the palace and the park look effective.

There are several entrances to Tsaritsyno park. I would recommend taking the metro to Tsaritsyno metro station and then walk to the Central Gate. If you come via this entrance, you will walk past the picturesque part of the park with the ponds. 

Musical fountain in the middle of one of the ponds
Musical fountain in the middle of one of the ponds

Ponds & Musical Fountain “Podkova”

One of the sights of the park is the light-musical fountain “Podkova” (Russian word “podkova” means a horseshoe). The fountain lies on an artificial island of the Tsaritsyno Middle Pond. There are benches around the fountain so you can take a rest and enjoy music and water jets show.

Besides, you can rent a boat and take a tour of Tsaritsyno ponds.

Tsaritsyno Museum in Moscow, Russia
The Grand Palace in Tsaritsyno

The Grand Tsaritsyno Palace

The pride of Tsaritsyno is undoubtedly the complex of the buildings created for Catherine II. The complex consists of the Grand Palace and “Gothic taste” additional buildings.

The Grand Palace is a monumental building that reminds me of the Kremlin and a medieval castle at the same time. I could never imagine I would see an imperial palace made of not plastered red brick. After Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo, Tsaritsyno looks quite peculiar.

However, Tsaritsyno is such a Moscow-style residence! It matches well the red walls of the Kremlin and Red Square, the main sights of Moscow!

At present, the Grand Palace houses permanents historical exhibitions, as well as press conferences, meetings with famous people, and temporary expositions.

Remember: the architects did not finish the interiors of the palace. In other words, interior decorations did not even exist. At present, visitors can admire well-decorated halls of the palace, but those are newly made interiors.

In case you would like to explore authentic palaces of the Romanov family, you should come to St Petersburg. Imperial residences in St Petersburg have preserved more authenticity.

However, do not skip touring the Grand Palace. There you will find personal belongings of Catherine the Great, paintings, documents, coins, household items, and jewellery.

Church Of The Icon Of The Mother Of God “Life-giving Source”

The Church Of The Icon Of The Mother Of God “Life-giving Source” is the oldest building of Tsaritsyno. It existed even before Catherine II started to build there a new residence. The church was built in the middle of the 18th century in the Elizabethan Baroque style.

Gothic Pavilions & Bridges

Many smaller edifices surround the Grand Palace. Those pavilions are also made of red brick and decorated with intricate white ornaments.

For a nice photo for your Instagram, head to the Ornate Bridge. Due to high towers and pointed windows, this bridge looks like a fortress.

Ornate Bridge in the park
The Ornate Bridge looks like a medieval fortress
Ornate Bridge and the oldest church in Tsaritsyno
Ornate Bridge and the oldest church in Tsaritsyno
The Grape Gate, a symbolic border between Tsaritsyno Palace and park
The Grape Gate is a symbolic border between the palace and park

Tsaritsyno Park & Park Pavilions

If you go further towards the park, you will also see the picturesque Grape Gate. The Gate is a symbolic border between the Tsaritsyno Palace and the park.

Do not miss the chance to go further to the park! You will discover more lovely places. For instance, there is a Ruined Tower. Climb to the observation deck on the top of the tower to get a nice view of the ponds.

While wandering in the park, you will also discover a couple of small pavilions, like Milovida Pavilion and Nerastankino Pavilion. These pavilions are small classical-style galleries where you can relax.

Do not forget to carry a handful of raw sunflower seeds or hazelnuts. The squirrels will gladly accept this treat!

Ruined Tower, a romantic pavilion in the park of Tsaritsyno, Moscow
Ruined Tower, a romantic pavilion in the park of Tsaritsyno

WHERE TO EAT IN TSARITSYNO

While wandering in the park, you will find many food stalls. They serve hot and cold drinks, snacks, candies, sandwiches, hotdogs, etc. 

There is also a cafe Kofishenskaya that offers a variety of tasty dishes: soups, salads, meat and fish, pasta, and desserts. They also have a special vegan menu.


ADDRESS & TICKETS INFO

Address: Dolskaya St.,1, Moscow, Russia

Park opens daily from 6:00 to 24:00. The entrance to the park is free.
In the park, you can rent a boat and take a tour of Tsaritsyno ponds. 
From April to October, there are park tours on electric cars.

Museums and exhibitions open from Tuesday to Sunday. Monday is a day off. A ticket to the Grand Palace and Bread House (two permanent expositions in Tsaritsyno) costs 400 Rub. (~8USD).
You can buy tickets to the museum online.


USEFUL LINKS

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Tsaritsyno Palace And Park in Moscow, Russia • TRAVELCULTURA
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