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Offline Helen_Azar

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History of Pushkin
« on: August 01, 2006, 09:27:21 AM »
Brief History of Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin)

1. Sarskaya

Fifteen miles from where the new Russian capital of St Petersburg was constructed existed a small local farmstead. The original name of the farmstead is unknown, but it was referred to as "Sarskaya". The root of the name is found in the Finnish language, as most of the inhabitants of this farmstead were Finnish at the time of the town's founding. Along with some other surrounding lands, "Sarskaya" was given to Prince Alexander Menshikov, Peter I's favorite. 

In 1710, Peter I gave a part of the domain that included Sarskaya to his wife Catherine Alekseyevna, future Empress Catherine I.   

In 1715, first country house/palace was constructed in Sarskaya by Peter I. This structure was going to become the prototype of the future Catherine Palace. This time period was considered to be the "official" founding of the town later to be known as Tsarskoe Selo. Sarskaya, in fact, began as an imperial estate along the typical Russian lines of organization - established not only as a retreat but also as a place for hunting, exploitation of natural resources and farming.

Upon the death of Catherine I in 1727, her daughter Elisabeth inherited Sarskaya, as it now became permanently known. Around the former farm arose an entire village complete with a church attended by the peasants of the neighboring Russian villages. Circa 1730, Elisabeth hired the Italian architect Rastrelli to improve Sarskaya.  Around the palace rapidly arose a suburb with a multitude of inhabitants, workmen, masters, artists, architects, court servitors, troops, functionaries, and persons of the Empress's suite, all nourished by the Court. The main palace, now known as the Catherine Palace, was redesigned and rebuilt by Rastrelli.

2. Tsarskoe Selo

1761 brought the death of Empress Elisabeth and the succession of her nephew, Peter III, who during his short reign only spent about one week at Sarskaya whilst his birthday celebrations with fireworks. His reign was unpopular and very short-lived, and the same year also saw the succession of his wife Catherine via a coup.

During the reign of Catherine II (the Great), the official name of the town became "Tsarskoe Selo" (Tsar's Village). According to the early 20th century author Viltchkovsky, of all her country residences Catherine preferred this town. From 1763, with the exception of two or three years, she always spent springs and summers in Tsarskoe Selo, leaving it late in autumn, when it began to get cold. Here she almost always celebrated her birthday. From here, on the 28th of June 1763 began the solemn procession to Petersburg after her Coronation in Moscow; here she received the news of the brilliant victory at Kagoul; here in 1770 took place the famous masquerade and illumination in honor of the Prussian Prince Henry. Here the Empress retired in winter of 1768 to be vaccinated, thus setting the example to the population of the whole Empire. Here, at Tsarskoe Selo, were born the future Nicholas I, as well as his brother Constantine Pavlovich.   

In 1796, the construction of the Alexander Palace, the palace Catherine was building for her favorite grandson Alexander (future Alexander I), was completed. Catherine II died during the same year, and her son Paul succeeded her. Paul I resented Tsarskoe Selo because it reminded him of his mother, whom he disliked intensely. Hence he completely neglected the town during his reign (1796-1801).
 
Paul’s son Alexander became Alexander I in 1801, and during the early years of his reign Tsarskoe Selo seemed to have been forgotten. However, in 1808, the Emperor, seeing the desolation of the once lavish town, ordered some of the bronze statues and vases to be brought back. At the same time a granite terrace was being built and the government offices moved back to Tsarskoe Selo and provided with territorial property.
 
Emulating his grandmother, Catherine II, Alexander I began to take great pains in the adornment of her favorite town. Everything that had been demolished in the time of his father, Emperor Paul, was restored during this reign. In memory of the war with France, a monumental gate with the inscription "To my dear war companions" was erected; the big conservatories, which had grown old, were completely rebuilt by Stasov, one of the best architects of that time.

Near the Alexander Palace arose the Imperial Farm: the old stone enclosure of the Menagerie was demolished and the material was used for the construction of the Farm. Architect Menelas built an artificial ruin "the Chapel" and the Llama House.

The college, founded at the end of the reign of Catherine for her grandchildren in the wing of the Catherine Palace, was transformed into the Imperial Lyceum, a school for cadets. "In one day, in Tsarskoe Selo I have time to do more, than in a whole week in Petersburg" was Alexander I’s feeling about the town. To please the Emperor, in Grouzino a study was arranged for the Emperor, which was the exact copy of his workroom at Tsarskoe Selo. During the last years of his life the Emperor sometimes retired to Tsarskoe Selo for a short time in winter, staying in the three rooms of the Church wing.


Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: History of Pushkin
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 09:30:01 AM »
(continued...)

In 1826, the new Emperor Nicholas I and his Empress consort made the Alexander Palace their home at Tsarskoe Selo.  By 1831 the entire court moved to Tsarskoe Selo to escape the outbreak of cholera in St Petersburg, after a quarantine.

In 1835, a town cathedral was built by the order of the Emperor. In the park, the Arsenal was erected, in which a very rich collection of arms, belonging to the Emperor, was kept. The military corps for young boys was lodged in the building of the Lyceum boarding school.

The park was considerably enlarged and adorned with beautiful gates and a Turkish bath. At the end of the reign of the Emperor Nicholas I, the wooden hospital, built in 1812, was demolished and an exemplary court hospital was built in its place. During the reign of Nicholas I, Russia also saw the first railway in the Russian empire, which led from St Petersburg to Tsarskoe Selo. By 1839, Tsarskoe Selo was now fully transformed into an "imperial court town".

Alexander II (aka Tsar Liberator) ascended the throne in 1855. During his reign no new buildings were constructed in Tsarskoe Selo, but ones that already existed were kept up in an exemplary order. In 1860, Dowager Empress Alexandra (widow of Nicholas I, mother of Alexander II) died in Tsarskoe Selo.

In 1881, Alexander II was assassinated and his son Alexander III succeeded him. During this new reign the court spent very little time at Tsarskoe Selo. The Emperor chose for his residence the left wing of the Alexander Palace. During Alexander III reign Tsarskoe Selo also got the credit of being the first town in Europe lighted by electricity.
 
3. The Last Russian Emperor

Between 1894-1895, at the ascent of Nicholas II - the last Russian Emperor, Tsarskoe Selo saw many more improvements. In 1895, Nicholas II ordered considerable changes to be effected in the Alexander Palace. Tsarskoe Selo now possessed an exemplary waterway and a perfect sewage system. The number of instructive, philanthropic and medical institutions continually increased. Thanks to the cleanliness, dryness and excellent sanitary conditions of the town, as well as to its easy communication with the capital, it’s population increased every year, and it became one of the most healthy and well-organized towns in Russia.

1905 was the year of the first Russian revolution, which commenced with the "Bloody Sunday". By this time, the imperial court was spending every winter at Tsarskoe Selo, until Nicholas II and his family made Alexander Palace their permanent residence at the end of 1905.

Until 1914, Tsarskoe Selo and the Alexander Palace remained the permanent residence of the imperial family. “Tsarskoe Selo” became synonymous in everyone’s mind with the “imperial government”.

In 1914, Russia joined forces with the British Allies against Germany in World War I. While Nicholas traveled back and forth to the military headquarters, the rest of the imperial family remained at Tsarskoe Selo.

By 1916, political unrest escalated in Russia. The imperial family living in virtual isolation at Tsarskoe Selo, refused to accept the seriousness of the situation in the country.  Grigory Rasputin - the universally hated imperial family confidant - was murdered by members of the Russian nobility trying to save the imperial reputation.  When Rasputin’s body was found, it was buried in the Alexander Park in Tsarskoe Selo, in accordance with the Empress Alexandra’s wishes (only to be exhumed and burned some months later, when the revolutionaries took over Tsarskoe Selo).

In 1917, Nicholas II was forced to abdicate his throne, and returned to Tsarskoe Selo to join his family. The imperial family were arrested by the Provisional Government and kept under house arrest in Alexander Palace for several months, until they were transferred to Siberia to be held in captivity there. Nicholas, his wife, five children, servants, and other Romanov family members were executed by the revolutionaries in the summer of 1918.


Offline Helen_Azar

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Re: History of Pushkin
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 09:30:47 AM »
(continued....)

4. Communist Era – Palace-Museums

In 1918, Tsarskoe Selo was renamed “Detskoye Selo” (Children’s Village) by the new Bolshevik rulers. The palaces became prototypes of future palace-museums.  In 1937, the year of the 100th anniversary of Alexander Pushkin’s death, the town was renamed Pushkin.
 
In the beginning of World War II (1941-42), in anticipation of German invasion, the most valuable artifacts were evacuated from the Alexander and Catherine Palaces (World Monuments Fund).

From 1942, Pushkin was under German occupation.  Upon their retreat in 1945, the Germans deliberately burned down the Catherine Palace almost completely, although the Alexander Palace was left almost intact.  The famous Amber Room in the Catherine Palace was disbanded and taken to Germany, not to be seen again for over fifty years.

During the post-WWII years, the Catherine Palace was painstakingly restored. The contents of the Amber Room, however, were not located until 1990’s. Portions of the Alexander Palace were also restored during that time. The Amber Room was not completely restored until the 21st century.
 
In 1946, the Alexander Palace was placed under the authority of the USSR Academy of Sciences in order to serve as a national museum of literature and the museum of Alexander Pushkin (World Monuments Fund).

In 1951, the Alexander Palace was handed over to the administration of the Russian Navy, under whose direction it remains today. It still occupies the right (West) wing of the palace (World Monuments Fund).

5. Post-communist Era – The Town of Pushkin

From the early 1990’s, restoration work was done on both Catherine and Alexander Palaces (World Monuments Fund). In 1996, Alexander Palace was registered on World Monuments Watch List of 100 Endangered Sites and within a year, in 1997, the East Wing of the palace was opened to the public as a museum.


Offline dmitri

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Re: History of Pushkin
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2007, 10:23:51 AM »
The contents of the original Amber Room were never found. They were looted by the Nazi Germans. What is seen today is a complete replica.