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Tsaritsyno.

The historic estate of Tsaritsyno is located in the Southern Administrative Okrug of Moscow stretching along the shores of the Tsaritsyno ponds. This is Moscow’s largest museum-reserve, covering an area of 550 hectares, and also a national historic and cultural monument. The estate was built in the pseudo-Gothic style under designs by architects Vasily Bazhenov and Matvei Kazakov, with a landscape park revealing pavilions, gazeboes, grottoes and bridges.

The first references to the Chernaya Gryaz village (the original name of Tsaritsyno) date all the way back to the 16 century. A cascade of ponds 8 kilometers long enveloping the area was made in the time of Boris Godunov. According to the available sources, the village belonged to the noble family of the Streshnevs, princes Golitsyn. In 1713, Peter I gave the village to the "Moldavian lord" Prince Dmitry Kantemir. In 1775, Catherine II bought the estate from Kantemir’s heirs with the intention of building a new retreat near Moscow, and hence the name of Tsaritsyno (literally, Tsarina’s).

The Empress entrusted the brilliant Russian architect Vasily Bazhenov with the task. In just a year, a design for the palace ensemble in the "Moorish-Gothic" style was drafted. The estate’s landscape parks were laid out with the help of two garden designers, I. Murno and F. Reed, both sent from Great Britain. Together, they produced a stunning result.

In 1785, as construction was nearing fruition, Catherine paid a visit to the estate and was dissatisfied with the architecture, ordering Bazhenov’s buildings to be pulled down. Another outstanding architect, Matvei Kazakov, was then commissioned to build a new palace.

The palace was under construction for 10 years, until the demise of Catherine II in 1796, when the work was suspended for what turned out to be two long centuries. First, it served as a promenade, then a country area, an urban settlement and a Moscow district. In 1984, it was resolved to launch the restoration of the architectural ensemble and landscape parks of Tsaritsyno, which was to be transformed into the State Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts of the Peoples of the USSR (now the State Historic, Architectural, Art and Landscape Museum-Reserve Tsaritsyno). The great palace was not completed until 2005, and the Tsaritsyno ensemble welcomed its first guests at the September 2007 opening ceremony.

The architectural ensemble, with its bright combination of red brick walls and white stone decorations, fits in harmoniously with the natural landscape. The center of the composition is made up of two palaces linked by a gallery to which a patterned gate leads, and the Third Cavalier Building (servants’ quarters), with the Bread House (the Kitchens, or the Kitchen Building) behind them. This makes one of the largest and outstanding buildings of the Tsaritsyno ensemble — a two-storey square structure with rounded corners resting on a high basement and featuring a square courtyard, covered by ogee-shaped, rounded or double windows decorated with white stone architraves. On the island of the Sredne-Tsaritsynsky pond, a musical fountain has been installed that spouts water in sync with the music.

The museum now regularly houses various expositions built up mainly from the museum’s collection of decorative and applied arts, and shows and performances are staged in the Bread House. The Tsaritsyno estate offers its guests tours of the grounds around the architectural ensemble and landscape, dubbed The Empress and the Architect, Architectural Mysteries of Tsaritsyno, Abundant Water — The Fascination of the Park, as well as the permanent expositions Tsaritsyno Antiquities, Tsaritsyno through the Ages and Catherine the Great.