Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trip to St Petersburg: Tsarskoye Selo

There are a few Tsars' summer residences around St. Petersburg. Most people prefer Peterhof - the brainchild of Peter the Great. It has some pretty spectacular fountains and a scenic view of the the Gulf of Finland.

But I prefer Tsarskoye Selo.It's now part of a small town called Pushkin and has some pretty impressive art and architecture, not to mention a beautiful park.      


That's the Catherine Palace and a bit of the park. It has a very fairy-tale feel to it, with light blue, white and gold combination and especially because of the golden-domed chapel that seems to grow right out of the palace.  


The park around the palace is very beautiful. It's great fun to just wonder around it and come across one building or another.  


The park is full of busts and sculptures made in the neoclassical style, which was all the rage during the reign of Catherine the Great. This one is probably Bacchus.  

Here's another one. This one is an allegory of something. I can't remember anymore, but it was either Dawn or Youth.     


Cast iron and gilded door of the Grotto pavilion is both beautiful and a little sinister. 


Even birds in Russia appreciate great architecture. See these pigeons perched on Rastrelli's Grotto. 


Catherine Palace and the surrounding park often serve as venues for temporary exhibitions. Here's a particularly interesting one. There was a number of sculptures around the Admiralty building recreating famous paintings in 3D. This one is Bruegel’s The Blind Leading the Blind       


The Grotto pavilion as seen from the other bank of the Great Pond with a little ferry in front of it. To the left is the Cameron Gallery which was built for Catherine the Great in neoclassical style. It's a place where the Empress could go to stroll and have philosophical discussions surrounded by the busts of her intellectual idols. 


On the other bank of the pond is the Turkish Bath pavilion. It's a strange kind of memorial to the Russo-Turkish War and was the last structure to be built on the park grounds.     


This is the Marble Bridge, which is probably one of my favorite structures in the whole park. It's surrounded by pine trees and willows and has a little pond of its own. Really picturesque.     


This is a fun one - the Kitchen Ruin. There was a bit of an antique craze going around Europe at the end of the 18th century. This Greek ruin in the middle of a Russian Tsar's residence was a testament to this craze. The architect used real elements of ancient edifices and sculptures to create the effect. 


The ceiling of the Concert Hall in Tsarskoye Selo. I have an unaccountable passion for taking pictures of ceilings.  


I am also partial to floors. This one is from the Concert Hall, too.    


More ceilings from the Concert Hall. I told you, I love ceilings. 


I just found this woman's hairstyle fascinating. I really need to try and recreate it.   
  

The flowers and the statue of a nymph or a goddess went together beautifully.  


Unfortunately, we were visiting on a Saturday and the crowds were insane. We tried to get into the palace to see the restored Amber Room, but after two and a half hours in line we gave up. But this just leaves more things for my next visit. I would also like to see the Pushkin's Museum and the Aleksander Palace next time I'm there.  

If you're curious, Tsarskoye Selo has a really great website.           

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