Visit a 13th century Byantine palace and learn about Imperial life.
Tsarskoe Selo Train StationThe best way of reaching Tsarskoe Selo from St. Petersburg is by the railway of Moscow - Vindav - Rybinsk. A ride from 25 to 30 minutes brings you to Tsarskoe Selo.
After crossing the Obvodny canal, near the church of St. Miron and the Volkovo field, the train passes the platform of the military aerodrome, leaving the Convent of the Resurrection to the right. Beyond the aerodrome, just visible, are the domes of the church of the Nicholaevskaya - Chesmenskaya almshouse, which stands on the road of Moscow. This is a military almshouse and occupies a former palace of the Empress Catherine, which was built by the architect Felten in 1773, in memory of a victory, gained by the Count Alexis Orlov over the Turks at Chesma. The almshouse was established here in 1836. The foundation stone of the church was laid in the presence of Gustavus III, visiting Russia under the name of the Count of Gotland. In June 1777 in the presence of the Empress Catherine II, and her guest Joseph II, staying in Russia as the Count of Falkenstein, the church was consecrated. The palace was given by Catherine as a chapter-house for the order of St. George, and the church of St. John the Baptist became the chapter church of this order. In the reign of the Emperor Paul, the palace and church were given to the order of the knights of Malta.
At the distance of twelve versts from St. Petersburg the railway crosses the road of Moscow at the platform of Srednaia Rogatka.
A little to the right, near the cross roads to Gatchina and Peterhof there stood in the reigns of Elizabeth and Catherine the palace of Srednaia-Rogatka. Of this palace there remains nothing, but a small stone house. Even in the reign of Catherine a part of the palace was pulled down, and only 4 rooms were left as a coach-station for her Majesty. The rest of the building was turned into an hotel. The Emperor Paul had the palace converted into a post-office. This palace was also called "The House of the Four Hands", because near it stood a signpost with four arms, pointing out the roads to Moscow, Peterhof, Petersburg, and Tsarskoe Selo.
Beyond the Srednaya Rogatka, the special line for Imperial trains, which has been running parallel to the main line, branches off towards the village of Kouzmino, which is seen in the distance. Beyond the St. Petersburg-Warsaw line, on the top of a hill, some buildings are to be seen. It is the Physical Observatory of Pulkovo, founded in 1839 near the village of the same name. In the XVIII century a palace, stood here, surrounded by a park and an orchard.
As the train draws near to Tsarskoe Selo, one catches sight on the left of some buildings, belonging to the race course. Before the racecourse was transported to St. Petersburg, races were run here for considerable prizes.
One of the buildings is now-occupied by Mrs. Levitsky's school for boys and girls. This school was founded in 1900 on the same lines as the Bidol's school in England. With the same course of study as that of the boys' classical college. There are four main classes and two preparatory ones. The school is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Instruction. The fees for the main classes are - 300 rubles a year for day scholars, and 850 for boarders: in the preparatory ones - 250 for day scholars and 750 for boarders. The new station at Tsarskoe Selo was built in 1904, at the same time as the terminus in St. Petersburg; the railroad was widened and the line prolonged until Jlobin. The railway of Tsarskoe Selo was the first opened for traffic in Russia, it was in 1839. The movement began in autumn 1836 from Tsarskoe Selo to Pavlovsk; the engines having not arrived from England, the trains were first drawn by horse.
The railway company had for members the master of the ceremonies, the Count Alexis Bobrinsky; the merchants, Benedict Cramer, Ivan Conrad Plit, and an Austrian nobleman Gerstner; they collected a capital of three million rubles. At the time, when the documents were confirmed, the founders bound themselves to have bells, or other means of warning the public, on the engines; passengers were not allowed to leave the train between the city gates and the office, where their tickets were examined. On the 5th of September 1838, at 11 o'clock at night, a certain peasant, Petrov, was run over by an engine, in consequence of this, the trains were forbidden to circulate after 9 o'clock in the evening.
The railway was triumphantly opened in the presence of all the ministers and of the diplomatic corps on the 30th of Oct. 1837. Gerstner himself drove the first train. The price for the journey to Tsarskoe Selo, during the first few years was 2 rubles 50 kopecks in a first class carriage, 1 ruble 80 kopecks in a 'diligence', and 80 kopecks in a simple open cart for the common people.
The Journey of the Emperor Nicholas I on the Tsarskoe Selo Railway in 1837There is a well known story about the Emperor Nicholas, who travelled in quite a peculiar way on the new railway for the first time; his own carriage was placed on a truck, and he took his seat in it and rode from Tsarskoe Selo Pavlovsk. After this experience the Emperor travelled in an ordinary first class, compartment.
We have a curious description, in an old fashioned style, of the movement of trains in these early years from Tsarskoe Selo to Pavlovsk by Bouryanov. Here is a fragment from it:
"Now let us go to see the Grand Pavilion, which stands on the railroad front Tsarskoe Selo to Pavlovsk. It is built of wood: its architecture is elegant: it is surrounded with beds of sweet smelling flowers, and with walks covered with red sand. We can find there large halls for walking, well cooked dinner, and a most brilliant company. Why are people gathering here? They wish to go by the "iron" road in carriages propelled by a steam engine to Pavlovsk."
"In England, America, France and even in Austria, there have been built railroads, which, consist of embankments, covered with sleepers, on which lie very long iron rails, with recesses for the wheels of the carriages, in which the passengers ride. In 1836 M. Gerstner, an Austrian nobleman, built an excellent iron road between Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk, and between St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo. In course of time, Moscow will be joined to St. Petersburg also by railway. There goes the engine with its chimney, pouring forth smoke. It drags behind it several carriages, which hold more than 300 people, its strength is equal that of 40 horses: in one hour it can run a distance of 30 versts. From Tsarskoe Selo to Pavlovsk, a distance of 5 versts, it runs in exactly 71/2 minutes. The engine has a horn attached to it. The conductor blows to caution people to get out of its way. A long row of carriages is attached to the engine: there are immense diligences, there are charsa-bancs, wide covered carriages with six rows of seats, where five men can sit on each: there are open trucks for the same number; there are vans for all kinds of load, for horses, cows, sheep, calves and poultry: there are vats for 'different kinds of liquids, refreshments and food. Let us take our seats in one of these carriages. The signal is given. Music plays), smoke belches forth from the chimney of the engine. We catch a glimpse of wooden houses, of rivers, woods, they are left behind; the needle of the clock has hardly time to move, before we are in Pavlovsk. Look at the wheels of our carriage: the outside part is forged of iron to prevent breaking at so high a speed."
When approaching the station, the train passes the goods station (on the right) which was built in 1907. Beyond it one can see the buildings of the town slaughterhouse, with its high chimneys. Until 1895 cattle were slaughtered in a house beyond the Kazansky cemetery; this was a simple wooden hovel without any technical or sanitary conveniences: blood and other refuse used to be buried by the side of the slaughter-house. There was no regular inspection either of the meat, nor of the cattle to be slaughtered. The new town slaughterhouse, which was built from the plans of the architect Bach, came into use on the 15th of January 1895. It consists of a slaughter-house for large and small cattle,a slaughterhouse for horses, a pack-house for the inspection of meat, and a factory, where the refuse is made use of.
Near the railway station begins a broad boulevard was planted with trees by the gardener Liamine and was connected with the old boulevard, which had bordered the town ever since the ancient plans, confirmed by the Emperor Alexander I (1808). The old boulevard began at the broadway of Pavlovsk, turned off at right angles to the west and went as far as the Alexander Park. It still exists in the same form, and has only been prolonged until the railway station.
The Emperor Alexander I wished to have the whole of Tsarskoe Selo surrounded by a boulevard, along which one might, after leaving the old great park, ride round the town and return to the palace through the Alexander Park.
The quarter, which sprang up in 1839 beyond the town boundaries of the time of Alexander I, is cut into squares by the Shirokaya and the Joukovsko-Volynskaya Streets, by the Bezymianni cross-street and by the Novoderevensky road. At the corner of the Shirokaya and of the Bezymianni Streets stands the justice Court of Tsarskoe Selo's district, and next to it, on the Shirokaya, the offices of the Marshal of Nobility, the Court of Wardship, the chambers of the Member of the St. Petersburg Circuit Court for the Tsarskoe Selo district and the town judge.
To the left, on the crossing of the two boulevards, stand some villas, built on the land, belonging to the descendants of German Colonists. This colony is called "Friedenthal" and was inhabited during the period 1816-25 by emigrants from the duchy of Berg. The colonists settled in 7 houses, built at the expense of the treasury, and occupied themself, with gardening, planting vegetables, and with manufacturing silk, cotton, and woollen ribbons and tape. Their descendants subsist on the proceeds of their gardening, and hire-out their villas.
In order to enter the Colony, you have to pass on the Moscow road, through the Moscow gate, built in the empire style in 1831 by the architect Gornostaeff. The railing was made at Greyston's manufacture from the drawings of the architect Glinka.
Through this gate lay the privileged road from Tsarskoe Selo to Moscow; the high road, leading through the Srednaia Rogatka, the Moskovskaya Slavyanka, Ijora etc.
Through this gate on the 28th of February 1826, passed the solemn procession with the remains of the Blessed Emperor Alexander, who during his life had loved Tsarskoe Selo so dearly. "At 3 o'clock in the afternoon", writes a contemporary, "the Imperial Court and the inhabitants of Tsarskoe Selo, in silent grief, hastened to meet the remains of the beloved Monarch. The Chief Marshal of the sad ceremony met the procession at the frontier of the town, and placed the Imperial crown on the coffin. As the funeral car drew near, His Majesty the Emperor, followed by H.I.H. the Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich and the princes of Prussia and Orange, got the advance of the rest, and bowing low before the sacred remains of his August Brother, wept over, the coffin and then in deep grief, followed the funeral car. After the loud weeping and sobs, which rang through the crowd at the approach of the coffin, had ceased, a silence of compunction set in, broken only by the boom of the cannon."
Another contemporary writes; "I watched the mournful ceremony from an attic window: it was heralded by cannon shots and church, bells: the sound of drums could be heard from afar. The procession was headed by the chief of the police and by the gendarmes: then followed postillions, trade corporations, citizens, 'merchants, pupils from the Lyceum, with their tutors, palace servants, district clerks', the Marshal of Nobility, the governor, and a detachment of the Life-Guards; the deceased Monarch's orders and regalia followed. Then came the choir and clergy: of Tsarskoe Selo, with the head priest, and those from Taganrog with the priest Feodotoff, who had administered to His Majesty the Holy Sacrament. Crosses and banners were born: the funeral car was drawn by six horses, driven by the Emperor's coachman, Ilia. Behind the coffin walked H.I.M. Nicholas Pavlovich and H.I.H. the Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich, the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Wurtemberg and others. Behind the late Emperor's travelling carriage followed the Regiment of the Life Guards Hussars."