The Alexander Palace in Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) was the favourite summer residence of the royal family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II. It was here that Nicholas II, no longer the Russian Emperor but a Colonel Romanov, returned to on March 15, 1917 following his abdication from the Russian throne during the tumultuous year that brought the Bolsheviks into power and threw Russia into the Soviet abyss for over 70 years. It was also here that the Royal family had been held prisoners until August 1917 when they were moved to Tobolsk in Siberia to never see St. Petersburg again…
The palace was a gift of Catherine the Great to her beloved grandson Alexander, the future Emperor Alexander I, on his marriage to Grand Duchess Elizaveta Alexeevna. Designed by the famed Italian architect Quarenghi and built between 1792 and 1796, this neoclassical style mansion is considered to be one of the main architectural masterpieces of that time. Its airy façade is decorated with a magnificent Corinthian colonnade passage consisting of two rows of columns and with two sculptures of playing boys. To this day the Alexander Palace strikes the visitor with its graceful simplicity, harmonic proportions and elegant decoration.
Since the days when Alexander I gave the palace to his younger brother, the future Nicholas I, the palace was used as a summer residence of the heir to the Russian throne. It became the official home of the Nicholas II family during the last 13 years of his reign. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 the palace became a museum and was later turned into a vacation home for NKVD (the precursor to KGB) staff. During the Nazi occupation, the palace housed the German army staff and Gestapo with a prison located in the cellars. Following the devastation of the WWII, the palace was handed over to the Navy Department of the Soviet Army and recovered its museum status only in 2009 when restoration works began. Nowadays visitors can view several of the restored state rooms and personal belongings of the Nicholas II family on display.
If you are interested in the history of Nicholas II Royal family and of the early 20th century, we strongly recommend a visit to the Alexander Palace!