Tsarskoye Selo - Encyclopedia




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TSARSKOYE SELO, a town of north Russia, in the government of St Petersburg, and an imperial residence, 15 m. by rail south of the capital. Pop. (1885), 15,000; (1897), 22,353. The town stands on the Duderhof Hills and consists (i) of the town proper, surrounded by villages and a German colony, which are summer resorts for the inhabitants of St Petersburg; and (2) of the imperial parks and palaces. The former is built on a regular plan, and its houses nearly all stand in gardens. The cathedral of St Catherine is a miniature copy of that at Constantinople. The imperial parks and gardens cover 1680 acres; the chief of them is the "old" garden, containing the "old palace," built (1724) by Rastrelli and gorgeously decorated with mother-of-pearl, marbles, amber, lapis lazuli, silver and gold; the gallery of Cameron adorned with fine statues and entrance gates; numerous pavilions and kiosks; and a bronze statue (1900) of the poet Pushkin. A second palace, the Alexander, was built by Catherine II. in 1792, and has in its park an historical museum and an arsenal.

When Peter the Great took possession of the mouth of the Neva, a Finnish village, Saari-mois, stood on the site now occupied by the town, and its Russified name Sarskaya was changed into Tsarskoye when Peter presented it to his wife Catherine. It was especially embellished by the tsaritsa Elizabeth. Under Catherine II., a town, Sophia, was built close by, but its inhabitants were transferred to Tsarskoye Selo under Alexander I. The railway connecting the town with St Petersburg was the first (1838) to be constructed in Russia.

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