Explore the beautiful suburbs of St. Petersburg during the Hot Air Balloon Ride. Take-off points are located in Puskin (Tsarskoye Selo), Krasnoye Selo and Volkhov.
Tsarskoye selo (Rus: Царское Село, “Tsar’s Village” or “Royal Village”) is a former country residence of the royal family, the UNESCO’s World Heritage site and the object of cultural heritage of the Russian Federation. It’s located 15 mi (24 km) from the center of Saint Petersburg.
The construction of the residence started in the 1710s and lasted for over 10 years. The entire palace complex of Tsarskoe Selo includes the Catherine Palace, the Catherine park, the Alexander Palace, the Alexander park and over 100 architectural elements: pavilions, monuments, bridges and other structures.
The gem of the park ensemble is the Catherine’s Palace, which is considered the longest palace in the world (1000 ft/ 300m). It was designed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli, the chief architect of the royal court. The main highlight of the palace is the world-famous Amber Room. Its walls are adorned with 52 sq m of amber panels that weigh 1.5 tons. Each panel is lined with irregular amber pieces of different shades and made in the mosaic technique of Florentine artists.
The Catherine Park is conditionally divided into two parts: the Old Park or the Dutch Garden and the English landscape garden. The Dutch garden occupies the area behind the Catherine Palace. All plantings and constructions are arranged in symmetrical patterns; trees and shrubs trimmed into decorative shapes. The 173-acre (70 ha) landscape park surrounds the Great pond and contains a wide variety of historical buildings and monuments.
The Alexander Park stretches for about 200 ha to the west of the Catherine Palace. It’s less maintained than the Catherine Park, but it’s not so overcrowded. The main entrance is located right in front of the Catherine palace. The park consists of two parts – the New Garden and the Landscape Park. The New Garden is divided into four parts and surrounded by the Crestovy canal that was dug out in 1748. The landscaped park occupies the area to the north-east from the New Garden. It was laid out in the 1820s in the romantic style.
One of the finest creations of Classicism in architecture, the Alexander Palace was a summer residence for the Imperial Family in the 19th century. Since 1905, it became a real home for the last Russian Emperor Nikolas II and his wife Alexandra during the last 13 years of their reign. The palace retained the original interiors of the Stateroom and partially the last Tsar’s family apartments in the East Wing.
Seeing both the palaces and the parks would require more than a single day, so plan to arrive early. Be aware that getting around the parks requires a great deal of walking.
Remember that most guided tours in the Catherine palace are in the Russian language. In summer the number of visitors exceeds 7000 a day, so long queue at the palace is a common occurrence. Early arriving is strongly recommended. If you care about your budget, you should be aware that almost every pavilion in the Catherine park requires its own entry fee. The entrance to the Alexander park is free.
Visit the Tsarskoye selo official website to learn more about opening hours, prices and available exhibitions.
To get to Tsarskoye selo:
Latitude: 59°55’56” N (55.932185562515);
Longitude: 30°21′2″ E (30.350660404629)
Check out the full list of the most interesting tours in Russian cities.