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Large-scale restoration starts in Zubov Wing in Tsarskoe Selo


During the Second World War, the building as almost entirely destroyed. Now it is being restored basing on photos, watercolour pictures and the fragments that survived.

Large-scale restoration works have started in the Zubov Wing in Tsarskoe Selo. The building was private apartments of Empress Catherine the Second. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel’s Anna Bezkrovnaya reports.

Little reminds of the past glory of these chambers now, but the bricks here remember Catherine the Great. This enfilade of eight rooms was her private space where she would have rest, have lunch, get dressed and receive guests. Five rooms are being restored now, the plaster has been removed, and the walls and window openings are being strengthened.

Boris Igdalov, director of the Tsarskoe Selo amber workshop, explains: ‘Now we are strengthening the brickwork done in the 18th century and in the Soviet period.’

After that, the engineering communications are to be reconstructed. And only after that the most interesting part, the restoration of the interiors will start. Each room was decorated in its own style. In the dining room, the stucco dome is to be restored, and in the ‘Snuffbox’ room, glass columns decorated with brocade are to be recreated, as well as paintings, ceramics, and gilt. Charles Cameron, who designed the building and its interiors, followed the classicist style which the Empress preferred.

Olga Taratynova, director of the Tsarskoe Selo Museum, tells: ‘The interior decoration reflects her personality. We will study both her architectural taste and her character, as well as her life in Tsarskoe Selo. It is a very interesting process.’

For the most part, it will be rather recreation than restoration, as little of the original interior decoration has survived. During the Second World War, the Zubov Wing was almost totally destroyed. To recreate the décor, photos, watercolour pictures and the fragments found in the ruins will be used.

Maxim Grigoriev, restorer, tells: ‘We need, say, 180 such tiles. Now, we have made some 180 samples. If we need 20 such tiles, we will make 200 samples.’

Fortunately, some parts of the interior survived, for example, the parquet floor in the Mirror Study. The Nazis were so enchanted by its beauty that they took it to Germany. In 1947, the parquet was returned to Tsarskoe Selo. We will be able to see it in the recreated interiors no sooner than in 2023.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel