Well, of course I was not chasing the ghost of Pushkin in the city where he studied and wrote his first poems. I was just walking around Alexander park in Tsarskoye Selo and happened to spot Alexander Pushkin in his full attire pensively sitting at a food cafe right next to the Lyceum.) Here’s the proof:
The town called Pushkin, or Tsarskoye Selo (that’s the name which is more famous abroad, meaning Tsar’s Village) is beautiful in any season and almost any weather. However that also makes this ex-royal residence extremely popular with tourists, flooding its parks and palaces all year round. There are no gorgeous fountains and cascades as in Peterhof but there’s a lot to admire anyway. And here’s what you can see even without paying the entrance fee in the free-of-charge Alexander park.
Alexander palace was the epicenter of some religious ceremony which I did not get the meaning of but later that day – it was the day when the Romanov family was killed back in 1917 so there was a service held round an icon connected with them, which is apparently preserved in the palace these days. Anyway, I like the geometry of this classicism-style building, especially now that’s been renovated recently.
And then I moved on, making my way through the occasional crowds (tourists prefer the paid part of the park with the famous blue-and-white-and-golden Catherine palace and beautiful matching pavilions) but mostly just enjoying the nature.
If you get closer to Catherine palace – but remain within the Alexander park limits, you will find this Chinese-styled village (Chinese village it’s called of course), which was build in the 1780s. The village used to be occupied by tenants and then there was some sort of a guest house.
Nowadays there’s only a limited access to the – now elite – site as it’s occupied by some employees of foreign companies living in the 28 apartments. A Danish company fully and truly carefully renovated the village in 1996 thus preserving the heritage but – well – also making it inaccessible to others. They say anyone willing to stay there and pay a lot is warmly welcome : )
These Chinese-styled buildings form a real village with an inside court, tennis courts (you can tell that from the sound of the ball against the racket) and some other things hidden from your eyes by this double fence. I just remember this village so very dilapidated and looking wretched back in the nineties…
Though one of the pluses of those gloomy decadent nineties was that you could climb this Caprice pavilion (or rather a bridge, they say it was Catherine’s caprice to build a pricey bridge over the road)… Well, I know, it’s dangerous and vandalism was a real threat back then but… no more climbing the country’s cultural heritage these days.
But you can still get close to some decadent places – Chapelle tower, deliberately built in such a way as to resemble a Gothic church ruined by time (you’ll find more fake-aged pavilions of the kind scattered all over the park for the sheer amusement of the royal family and the court). The deliberately ruined look is assisted by the real process of dilapidation unfortunately.
You might make lots of circles within the limits of the Alexander park but you will eventually get closer to the elegant Catherine palace. If you want to enter it, you’ll have to stand in two queues and pay for the entrance to the park and the palace. Otherwise – you are free to admire it from the back.
The intricately decorated grate is a true work of art on its own!
You can spot the gilded domes of the in-house church:
And while walking around the free-access parts of the palace…
…you also come by this ‘E’ letter meaning Ekaterina or Catherine the First (the wife of Peter the Great):
The house church:
And this is the emperor’s Lyceum where Alexander Pushkin studied – it’s actually attached to the church from the photo above, such a privilege it must have been to study there! Girls in red costumes are coming from the same fast food spot where Pushkin can now be seen hanging around.)
Kidding, of course. Wanna see Pushkin? Here’s the monument which is probably one of the most famous representation of the Russian poet, located in the Lyceum garden. Here‘s a curious photo of another Russian poet, Sergey Esenin (and some khmm students), posing next to his illustrious predecessor.
The weather is so nice that you make another round in the Alexander park where there are such welcoming benches you can clearly see Pushkin sitting there creating his first verses under the birch trees!
And here’s where our walk ends, leaving Pushkin feed the pigeons and prepare his homework well.
P.S. Dedicating this post to Catherine! Will visit this nice spot next time!