The memory of Pushkin hangs over 'the village of the Tsars'. He owned a dacha here. But Tsarskoye Selo, some 20 km from Saint Petersburg, is mostly a grandiose imperial domain. It owes its magnificence to Empress Catherine II.
You will be dazzled by the splendour of the place: the blue facade; the inlaid floors; the clocks, the gilt, and the frescoes and a cabinet whose walls are completely covered with panels of amber, patiently rebuilt after their destruction during the German occupation. Do not miss the grand ballroom with its painted ceiling and gilded carvings, the dining rooms, the enfilade suites of rooms, and the richly decorated chapel.
In the park, terraces, statues, and flowerbeds dot the French gardens. Nearby is the Alexander Palace, one of the favourite vacationing residences of Nicolas II and his family. They were placed under house arrest there in 1917, just before their tragic end.
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