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Emperor’s favorite mansion. The Alexandrovsky Palace is closing for renovations

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The Romanov’s family nest will be renovated. The Palace at the Tsarskoye Selo – from where the family of the last Emperor was taken to Tobolsk – will be turned into a large museum, dedicated solely to the Tsar’s dynasty. All historic interiors will be retained. The miraculously survived family belongings will be on display at the Palace. Alexander Odintsov learnt what’s to change.

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Visitors, casually strolling through the halls of Nicholas II family’s last and favorite residency, do not know yet how lucky they are. That’s because soon the Alexandrovsky Palace will be closed for major renovations. In fact, works have been held here for three years already, but the new stage will divert the flows of tourists from the creation of architect Quarenghi. Engineering communications will be the first to undergo renovations – during the winter visitors came here in coats, as it was only +13C inside. While examining half-a-century-old pipes, workers have stumbled upon a plethora of other problems.

Olga Taratynova, director of “Tsarskoye Selo” museum: “We found cracks in foundation during the checks, new deficiencies we had no idea about. This made the walls weaker. Overlaps were not good either, because there had been many leaks in the times when it belonged to the military museum”

Recreating 6 rooms of the Tsar family’s private apartments is also among the museum’s plans. Having studied iconography and archive pictures, they will try to fully resurrect the rooms of Alexandra Fedorovna, the Lilac room, the Palisandrovskaya, The Klenovaya guest hall, the bedroom, the Mauritian restroom and the working office of Nicholas II. There used to be a Pushkin museum here in the 1950’s – interiors by English craftsmen were deemed unsuitable back then

Natalya Kudryavtseva, deputy director on restoration of “Tsarskoye Selo” museum: “Those who found that museum – just like many people of that time – were sharply negative about everything related to the family of Nicholas II. Unfortunately, all modern interiors made by the Maple Company were dismantled and lost”

Workers have now turned to the English to obtain the needed archived data. But while plans had been thrashed out, the Palace was almost hanged in mid-air – in order to make basements deeper. Unique works were held with the use of heavy machinery and with pinpoint precision.

Alexander Kuznetsov, head of reconstruction project: “If we were talking back in those days – that’s three years ago – then we would have stood at this level and I would have probably been bent not to hit the ceiling with my head. These 4 columns held the arches which could have collapsed if they were moved by more than 6 millimeters”.

The base was reinforced with special metal plates, as if creating another wall. After all works are done, the lobby floor will have much more space – needed for a state-of-the-art museum.

Pavel Sokolov, deputy director of architectural workshop: “We have decided that there will be an entrance group here to service the visitors, two cafes, as well as premises needed for maintenance of the building and storing the items”

The overall cost of works is 2 billion rubles. July 31st would be the last day when the exhibition of the Tsar family’s private rooms is open. Parade halls will be closed after September 1st.

Alexander Odintsov, reporter: “Another restoration is taking place simultaneously at the Arsenal Pavilion – built in 1834, it has been impressing with its excellence. Arrowed windows, curved columns and decorations. The building was substantially damaged during the Great Patriotic War. After which, for almost 70 years, it has been decaying. Only in 2011, the restoration of the neo-gothic building began”.

Domes and elements of decoration were lost after the War. Now the brick foundation, staircases and overlaps have been almost fully restored.

Dmitriy Matsukov, head of construction segment: “We had no roofworks, that’s why we had to restore the foundation. And it’s still not fully restored, because the lower level of spikes we still have not finished”

One of the best collections of weapons used to be kept within the medieval walls of the Arsenal. After the restoration is complete, those will make their way back to the halls of its towers. Now they are kept at the Hermitage’s funds. Works are expected to be completed by spring next year.

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