Russia. St. Petersburg. Tsarskoye Selo. 8.8.2014
photo by me
In 1708, Peter the Great gave the estate to his wife, the future Empress Catherine I, as a present. She founded the Blagoveschensky (Annunciation) church there in 1724, and changed the name of the settlement to Blagoveschenskoye, but this did not stand the test of time and quickly went out of use.
It was Catherine I who started to develop the place as a royal country residence. Her daughter, Empress Elizabeth and her architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli were largely responsible for the building of the Catherine Palace. Later Empress Catherine II of Russia and her architect Charles Cameron extended the palace building that is now known as the Cameron Gallery. Currently, there are two imperial palaces: the baroque Catherine Palace with the adjacent Catherine Park and the neoclassical Alexander Palace with the adjacent Alexander Park. The Catherine Palace is surrounded by a Garden à la française and an English landscape garden, with such 18th-century structures as Dutch Admiralty, Creaking Pagoda, Chesme Column, Rumyantsev Obelisk and Marble Bridge.
By the end of the 18th century, Tsarskoye Selo became a popular place of summer residence among the nobility. The guards' regiments were stationed to the south of Tsarskoye Selo, where Catherine the Great founded in the 1770s the town of Sophia (her own German name being Sophie). The five-domed neoclassical Ascension Cathedral, designed by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron, is the chief monument of that area.
The Royal Forestry School, perhaps the first such school in Russia, was founded in Tsarskoye Selo in 1803; it was moved to Saint Petersburg in 1811, to become the Imperial Forestry Institute. In 1808, Sophia and Tsarskoye Selo merged and became one town. In 1811, Alexander I opened the celebrated Lyceum next door to the Catherine Palace. Among the first students of the Lyceum who graduated in 1817 were Aleksandr Pushkin
and Alexander Gorchakov. Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin also graduated from the Lyceum. The Lyceum garden, the house of the Lycee Director, the house of Ludwig-Wilhelm Tepper de Ferguson, Lyceum music teacher belong to important historic sites associated with the Lyceum of Pushkin's time.