The palace and park ensemble in Tsaritsyno is the largest cultural monument of the 18th century. It was designed by the outstanding Russian architect Vasily Bazhenov in the so-called pseudo-Gothic style. However, Bazhenov's long-term work turned into a real life drama for him.
The area where the Tsaritsyn estate was subsequently built has gained fame since the end of the 16th century. At that time, there was the village of Bogorodskoye, which belonged to Queen Irina Godunova. During the Time of Troubles, the village was destroyed, in its place a wasteland was formed, which was named Black Mud.
In 1712, Dmitry Kantemir became the owner of the wasteland, on whose orders a one-dome stone temple and a fancy Chinese-style wooden palace were built there, surrounded by a regular park. In 1755, Catherine II, fascinated by the beauty of the estate, bought it from the son of its former owner, Sergei Dmitrievich Kantemir. Soon it received a new name - Tsaritsyno.
In the same year, the empress commissioned the court architect Vasily Bazhenov to build a residence for her in Tsaritsyno. Catherine wished that the palace was made in a "Gothic style" and surrounded by a landscape park.
Bazhenov enthusiastically set to work on the project. From 1775 to 1785, the Grand Palace, the "Bread House" (Kitchen Building), Figured (Grape) Gates and other structures were built. The main building materials were red brick and white stone, traditional for Russian architecture of the 17th century. The Tsaritsyno ensemble differed from most of the estates of that time in Gothic forms of architecture, first of all - pointed arches and complex window openings. Bazhenov considered the architecture of Ancient Russia to be a kind of Gothic, therefore in its buildings you can see the elements characteristic of the Moscow Kremlin. For example, the so-called "dovetails" - split teeth at the top.
A distinctive feature of the Bazhenov project was the absence of the main palace as a single structure. It split into 3 independent buildings: the central one (the Grand Palace) and 2 side ones, which housed the personal chambers of the empress and the heir to the throne. This decision was dictated by the idea of preserving the natural landscape and combining landscape and architecture.
On June 3, 1785, Catherine II visited the Tsaritsyn estate. The Great Palace seemed to her too gloomy, its interior space - dark and cramped. "This is not a palace, but a prison!" - the empress exclaimed in anger and immediately left the estate, ordering to destroy the building to the ground. Bazhenov was removed from further construction work, which became the cause of a severe psychological crisis for him. Bazhenov's student Matvey Kazakov was appointed the new architect of the residence.
Kazakov failed to keep the style chosen by Bazhenov. The result of his activities was a new palace building with a classically symmetrical plan and external Gothic decoration.
In 1797, after the death of Catherine II, the construction of the residence was stopped. The Tsaritsyno ensemble was restored only in the 21st century. It immediately turned into one of the most beautiful and popular Moscow attractions.