For a long period of time Tsaritsyno State Museum Reserve in the south of Moscow was in the state of complete desolation. However, in the last years its appearance has been considerable improved thanks to the former mayor of Moscow. Now it is one of the most favorite parks of the citizens of Moscow intended for deliberate promenades among beautiful landscapes.
In 16th there was an estate of count Kantemir on the site called ‘Black Mud’. Catherine II who once stopped there on the way from Kolomenskoye liked its nature and beautiful landscapes very much. She bought out the estate from their former owners to build on its lands another Moscow tsar residence, which she named «Tsaritsyno».
The construction of the tsar palace and park complex was started in 1776 by Russian architect Bazhenov, whose project of several separate buildings was approved by Catherine II. At first the progress of construction was very fast, but then serious financial difficulties began.
In 1785 Catherine II visited Moscow and inspected the palace under construction. She was very angry with the architect Bazhenov for his miscounts, saying that «stairs were narrow, and ceilings - low», and ordered to pull down what he had time to build. The contemporaries thought that it was a kind of punishment for too close relations of Bazhenov with freemasons (after Bazhenov there have survived a lot of freemason symbols in Tsaritsyn) and the son of Catherine Paul with whom she was at enmity.
The construction was commissioned to the architect Kazakov who was the pupil of Bazhenov. He significantly changed the project of the main palace – so then was called today Great Palace in Tsaritsyno. Unlike the project of Bazhenov, it consisted not of several smaller buildings but of a single big building. By the mid-90th the palace was nearly finished, but after the death of Catherine the new tsar Paul (Pavel) ordered to stop all works in Tsaritsyno. So, in the course of the following two centuries the Great Palace and the associated buildings turned into the classic ruins.
In 1970 by the efforts of Soviet restorers there were reconstructed the First Cavalry Building, pavilions Milovida and Nerastankino, but still there was only the frame of the Great Palace.
In 2004 there occurred a momentous event for Tsaritsyno – the mayor of Moscow who was in charge of the museum reserve decided to finish this protracted construction 200 years later, and for a few years Tsaritsyno has become a magnificent palace and park complex. The main palace also was finished and today it hosts concerts and exhibitions.
At the entrance of the park you can see two water reservoirs – Upper and Lower ponds. The Upper pond is huge enveloping the park in the shape of crescent. In the middle of the pond there is the Duck Island, which was meant to provide rest for boat riders, and now it is a nesting place of ducks.
The Lower and Upper ponds are connected with the help of a dyke. In the middle of the Lower pond there is also an island with a big musical fountain. You can go to the island by two pedestrian bridges.
From the ponds the path is going up, and you can enter the territory of the palace through the Figure Bridge. Beyond the arch of the bridge you can see all the main buildings of Tsaritsyno – the Great Palace and the Bread House (Kitchen Building) interconnected by the arched gallery. On the left you can see the Church of Virgin`s Icon of Life-giving Wellspring built in 1722 by the count Kantemir, who owned the estate before Catherine II.
On both sides of the Great Palace there are many other buildings and pavilions: Cavalry Buildings, Middle Palace (Opera House), Small Palace, as well as bridges and conservatories. It would be very interesting to have a stroll among them enjoying the white and red mix of Gothic and Moorish styles with abundant inclusions of freemason symbols.
Apart from the territory of palaces and pavilions, you must have a promenade in the park of Tsaritsyno. The park is fairly big. For a long time it was but a wild forest, however, today designers considerably improved it. In different parts of the park you can see interesting ruins, small pavilions and houses, sculptures and grottoes.