The Petrovsky Transit Palace

The Petrovsky Castle is the name Pushkin used in his poems and Muscovites used to call the Petrovsky Transit Palace. Strong brick walls with Tuscan towers actually do resemble a castle. The “castle” was used by Russian Tsars as a transit or “en route” palace. A travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow was a long and tiring journey, so the palace served its purpose as a stop-over with adequate defence. The Tsars and their retinue used to stay overnight and rest in the palace and the next day they were given the gilt state coach and the Tsar and his armed escort used to enter Moscow under the banners with drums beating.

The palace was erected at the Tverskaya Road at the order of Catherine II in 1773-1782 and originally named the “Petrovsky” palace by the name of a nearby village. The first guest was the Emperor Pavel I who had stayed there before his Coronation in Moscow. From then on the palace had been a traditional place to stay at for official delegations that came to Moscow’s Coronation ceremonies. Sometimes, rather unexpected guests visited the Transit palace such as Napoleon Bonaparte who lived there while Moscow was on fire.

The French burnt the palace down while leaving Moscow. The restoration of the building lasted for over two decades until the mid-1830s. After the reconstruction the government quarters were arranged in the palace wings. The family of Michael Lermontov’s good friend lived in one of such quarters and the famous poet used to visit them there. The beauty of the palace and its surroundings had always attracted Muscovites. There is still a preserved part of the Petrovsky Park behind the palace. In the 19th century the park used to be a favourite spot for both parties and summer cottages. In addition to parties and restaurants, the Moscow public was also attracted by a theatre and a concert hall at which Ferencz Liszt himself used to play in. At the end of the 19th century the park lands were leased for new cottages construction. Many famous writers and artists used to live in Petrovsky’s cottages.

The changing historical eras had their impact on the fate of the palace. During World War I the building was used as a hospital. The Museum of ‘Red’ Aviation had been arranged in the palace after the Revolution of 1917. There were sail-planes and an airplane hanging under the palace dome; glass cabinets show-cased model aircraft. Access to the palace was closed when the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy was placed there. It seemed that the palace was lost forever.

But in 1997 the Petrovsky palace was placed under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Administration and restoration work started in 1998. At the present time, the Petrovsky Transit Palace is used as the Moscow Government Reception House but the palace rooms are also open for visitors. Moscow tours