The Palace mysteries of the Tzarskoe Selo. In the basement of the Alexandrovskiy Palace, restoration workers have found secrets staircases, an underground passage and service rooms.
For decades, these were concealed by brick walls. Mariya Tikhonova found out whether these underground passages would be opened to visitors.
The basement of the Alexandrovskiy Palace is still full of mysteries. This wooden stairs once led to adjutants room, but the only thing remaining now is this one stairwell. It has been locked up for half-a-century, but is in perfect condition. This room – decorated with sandstone tile - has been hidden for the same period of time.
Historians assume that this was a bathroom of Tzar’s servants. All these findings were walled-up when Soviets came to power and placed a military-naval project institute within the Palace’s walls. Its employees nearly destroyed another secret stairs leading to the real underground.
Mariya Tikhonova, reporter: “The Alexandrovskiy Palace was famed for being state-of-the-art. For instance, there’s a 150m tunnel behind this brick wall, which connected the Palace with the Kitchen building. According to Italian architect Danini’s blueprints, electric carriages were supposed to travel, delivering hot food to the Tzar’s table”.
The project was fulfilled only by half. Instead of electric carriages lackeys were cruising through the tunnels. In order to find the entrance to the underground, restoration workers had to crack open concrete floor.
Valeriy Kharlamov, construction worker: “We’ve known that there is a tunnel here. We took down the concrete, took out the garbage and soil. Started digging and found the stairs in good condition”
Its unclear whether this tunnel will be open for visitors and when this may happen. After large-scale renovation which started two years ago, the Alexandrovskiy Palace will become a modern museum.
The basement of the Palace will be open – that’s according to restoration workers, which have been working here for several years. Cash desks and cloakroom aside, there will be cafes and gift shops there. For more convenience there will be stairs and elevators in the lobby – both for organized groups and individual visitors.
Anastasiya Skornik, lead architect of “Studiya 44” workshop: “Every stairs-elevator unit consists of two spiraled staircases, located one above the other. That’s how we separate exit and entrance”
The fate of freshly-found secret stairs and rooms is yet to be decided – whether they will be used or turned into a part of the museum. Only one old item has its future set – this ordinary-looking brick tunnel, a meter in diameter, is the old drainage system. It is the same age as the Palace itself, but is still in working condition.
Natalya Kudryavtseva, deputy director of the “Tzarskoye Selo” restoration works: “We decided to keep this rainwater collector. It will be renovated and closed with a glass box. People coming here to use the cloakroom will be able to see it”.
This total “reboot” of the Alexandrovskiy Palace is expected to be completed by 2018. Restoration workers say they will make it on schedule it there won’t be disruptions in financing.