Grand Palace

The Grand Palace — the only building in Tsaritsyno, designed by the architect Matvey Kazakov. The building divides the palaces territory into two parts. Northern facade of the palace overlooks the wide principal square, southern one — the glade, biggest in the landscape park. The palace stands on the high bank of the pond, and his roofs can be seen from a distance above the trees.

The history of the Grand Palace is dramatic. The Palace by Bazhenov was laid out in 1779. However, the Empress Catherine II, who visited the estate in 1785, has not liked the palace. She has decided to demolish the almost ready building and to start a new one designed by the other architect Matvey Kazakov. In place of disassembled Bazhenov’s volumes Kazakov supposed to build a grand palace with a high central gallery. The architect kept common to the Tsaritsyno structures by Bazhenov style, then known as “Gothic”.

The combination of red brick and white stone, decorative arches on the facades, complex parapets partly correlated the new palace with the ensemble by Bazhenov. The Empress has desired the Tsaritsyno ensemble to be a manifestation of power and greatness of her reign. The side square wings became more imposing; connecting gallery received the royal scale — the architect supposed to arrange ceremonial halls here. The throne hall should have been to match in scale the ones in the imperial residences of Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. Above the roof of the gallery Kazakov designed a belvedere topped by a double-headed eagle. In the corners of the side wings are octagonal towers with lancet windows and high roofs.

However, the cost of Russian–Turkish war of 1787–1791 did not allowed to continue building. Work resumed only in 1793, but the project has been considerably simplified: the palace was reduced by one floor and decoration became much more restrained. A high throne hall was not implemented. Tsaritsyno was not destined to become a grand imperial residence: Catherine has already lost interest in this undertaking. After the death of the Empress in 1796 her son Paul I stopped the works in Tsaritsyno totally.

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The abandoned Grand Palace quickly turned into the most romantic and famous ruins in the vicinity of Moscow. The sad look of a huge building with gaping openings of windows and black peaked roofs caused gloomy associations.

In the XIX century Russian monarchs occasionally visited Tsaritsyno and thought about the use of the palace. The projects of demolition of the palace and adapting it for the barracks or factory were discussed. Fortunately, they were all too expensive. By the 1880s, the Grand Palace became dilapidated; for the safety of the public the remains of roofs and floor decks were dismantled.

In the second half of 1930 has been prepared the project of reconstruction and transformation of the Grand Palace in a Rest House — “Palace for the workers.” This idea, as well as others, more recent, has not been implemented.

In 1950–1980 years the ruins of the Grand Palace were used for training of the climbers.

In 1984 the Tsaritsyno State Museum of Applied Art of the USSR Nations was established and started the restoration of the palace ruins. However, due to the crisis of the early 1990s, funding for the work in 1996 was completely discontinued. Work resumed only in 2005, took place at accelerated pace and was completed in two years. Builders have tried to keep all that remained of the Grand Palace. However the reconstruction of the lost elements and creation of interior decoration caused heated debates in society. Decorative details on the tops of towers and the light color of roofs derive from the first unrealized Kazakov’s project. The central part of the current building contains ceremonial premises: lobby, grand staircase, anterooms and two big halls on the ground and first floors. The numerous museum galleries are now located in the lateral parts of the Grand Palace.

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