Friday, 9 March 2012

Kolomenskoe - Tsar Alexander's Palace

South of the city on the green Metro line (2) is Kolomenskoe. Originally a country estate of the Tsars, this 390 hectare park was designated a museum of architecture after the 1917 Revolution. As well as several in situ buildings, a number of beautiful structures have been moved here from locations across Russia. I’ll prepare a post on them another time. For the moment I will focus on one particular building that stands alone at the southern end of the park.

Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich, the father of Peter the Great, had a large wooden palace built at Kolomenskoe, completed in 1671. Visiting diplomats are reported to have described it as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Catherine the Great had it knocked down in 1786. She did, though, have the foresight to have a little scale model made. 

We went for a walk in Kolomenskoe in December, in the northern end, where most visitors go. I recall thinking how unfortunate it was that the palace had been demolished by Catherine. It would have been a highlight. 

More recently I took my skis to the park and the greater mobility they gave me on the snow allowed me to explore further afield. You can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Tsar Alexander’s Palace!

I felt like Schliemann discovering Troy as I skied out of the trees and found this - supposedly demolished in 1786, but still standing, unnoticed by the entire population of Moscow for over 300 years!
It turns out that a full scale reconstruction of this magnificent palace was completed in 2010. But it is unmentioned in any guidebook I have (and they are quite recent) and barely gets space on the internet, at least in English. I couldn’t even find advice about its existence in the more heavily visited part of Kolomenskoe, though my Russian is not good enough to read complex text and it is possible I missed something. 

Anyway, if you are planning to go to Kolomenskoe, make absolutely sure you see this wonderful rebuild of Tsar Alexander’s palace. 
Tsar Alexander's Palace. A full scale reconstruction completed in 2010

Within the palace is a little maze of courtyards...
...and passageways.
If you have the time, this beautiful building is worth a visit.

Follow this link to find the location of Kolomenskoe on Google Maps


  1. Nice blog you have here. Looking forward for the next post!

  2. Hi, Colin! I really enjoyed reading your blog! All my life I live in Moscow, so it is very interesting to observe your fresh look of it.
    I also have a blog about living in Moscow and Russia, but as "insider". In comparison with yours, mine seems like much more gloomy :) Maybe it will be interesting for you to read about Moscow and Russia from Muscovite's point of view ;) Here is my blog:

  3. Thanks Michael. I've had a look at your blog and will explore it more fully when I have time. I'm glad to see cars parked on the footpath drives someone else nuts, too!