Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo or Tsar’s Village)
Horses along the ride,
Long waves of combed manes.
O enchanting town of enigmas,
I’m sad. I’m in love with you.
Tsarskoe Selo, currently Pushkin town, is the most aristocratic, the most romantic and one of the two most famous suburbs of St.Petersburg. It can be compared only to Peterhof. Formally, Pushkin is now part of St.Petersburg and one of its districts but residents of St.Petersburg still view it as an infinitely romantic suburban town – a town of palaces and parks to which great poets dedicated beautiful verses.
Tsarskoe Selo as Pushkin was originally called is a former imperial summer residence. Its history dates back to 1710 when tzar Peter I gave those lands to his wife, the future Empress Catherine I, as a gift. It was for her that the first palace was built here.
Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter I and Catherine I, had an immense palace built on the site of her mother’s modest residence. The new palace was stunning in its opulence and excess of gold, and was named after Catherine I, Empress Elizabeth’s mother.
An enormous landscape park was laid out around the palace which got the name Catherine park.
At the very end of the 18th century another palace was built nearby for the future Emperor Alexander I and his wife, which got the name Alexander palace. Another beautiful park was laid out around the palace called Alexander park.
At the very beginning of the 19th century, the building of Lycée was added to the Catherine palace. It was established to train future statesmen but its most famous graduate was Alexander Pushkin, not just a writer and a poet but a real icon of the Russian literature and possibly all Russian culture.
When the Imperial family moved to Tsarskoe Selo for the sumer season, the aristocracy followed suit. That is why you will find so many beautiful palaces and mansions here. The most famous of them are Zinaida Yusupova’s dacha, two palaces of Prince Kochubey and Princess Olga Paley’s palace.
Besides Catherine park and Alexander park, Tsarskoe Selo has Babolovsky park, Farm park and other parks.
But it’s not only palaces and parks that make Tsarskoe Selo famous. It has another special side, which is almost mystical. It so happened that a great many Russian poets and writers lived there, the most famous of tem being Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova and Nikolay Gumilyov.
The name Tsarskoe Selo was officially used until the Revolution. After the Revolution, the town was renamed to Detskoe Selo, and in 1937 which was the centenary year of Alexander Pushkin’s death, the city was named after the poet.