The town of Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) is one of the many gems of Russian art, unique in its fortunate combination of outstanding architecture and splendid parks. Here you can visit places connected with the life and works of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The palaces in Pushkin are a real encyclopedia of the best creations by the outstanding masters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, brought together into a magnificent complex.
The town of Pushkin is 24 km from Saint Petersburg in the Izhorsk heights, which rise to 150-170 m above sea level. The landscape here varies greatly, just as if nature had intended it to be made into parks. Hills, stony ridges, and terraces alternate with valleys, horizontal and sloping plains; woodland gives way to fields. The numerous springs are the sources of streams and feed the ponds and pools.
The palace of Tzarko-Selo occupies the site of a little cottage which belonged to an old Dutch woman named Sara, and to which Peter the Great used to come for the purpose of drinking milk. The old woman died; and Peter, who had taken a fancy to the cottage on account of the magni?cent expanse which was in view from the windows, gave it to Catherine, with all the surrounding land, for the purpose of building there a farm. Catherine sent for an architect, and described to him exactly all she wanted. The architect did, as architects invariably do, and made of it the precise reverse of what she wished, — a castle.
Alexandre Dumas, Eighteen Months at St. Petersburg
Pushkin has a special microclimate as it is situated fairly high above sea level. The influence of the Gulf of Finland and the Atlantic is felt less here than in other places in St Petersburg region so that the annual precipitation brought by the air masses from the sea is less, and there are more sunny, cloudless days.
The warmest month is July and the coldest January, but the average annual temperature in the Pushkin region is 4.5 degrees Celsius. The microclimate is also affected by the luxuriant greenery in which the town is literally bathed, causing the breezes to be gentle and the daily yearly temperature range to be smaller.
As for the Court! It had lost all brilliancy since the revolution of 1905. From that date, in order to safeguard himself and his family from all attempts, the Tsar had abandoned that Winter Palace against which had broken the first wave of the popular tide, twelve years ago. He had taken up his permanent residence at the gates of Petrograd, in the peaceful Tsarkoye-Selo, where the shade of the great Catherine still seems to linger. There in the homely setting of a residence comparatively small Nicholas II. felt at ease, less crushed than in the immense building in the capital, more sure too, behind the Cossack cavalrymen of Kuban who kept watch and ward at his gates.
The last of the Romanovs, Charles Rivet, 1918