Pushkin (Russian: Пу́шкин) is a municipal town in Pushkinsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located 24 kilometers (15 mi) south from the center of St. Petersburg proper, and its railway station, Detskoye Selo, is directly connected by railway to the Vitebsky Rail Terminal of the city. Population: 92,889 (2010 Census).
Pushkin was founded in 1710 as an imperial residence named Tsarskoye Selo and received status of a town in 1808. The first public railways in Russia, Tsarskoye Selo Railways, were opened here in 1837 and connected the town to the capital St. Petersburg. After the October Revolution, the town was renamed to Detskoye Selo (meaning Children’s Village). Its name was further changed in 1937 to Pushkin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The town contains an ensemble of the 18th century «Tsarskoye Selo». This museum complex includes the Catherine Palace, Alexander Palace and other buildings and associated parks; it is a major tourist attraction of the area and is included in the list of monuments protected by the UNESCO.
In 1609–1702, on the place of Catherine Palace stood a Swedish estate Sarskaya Manor (Russian: Сарская мыза, Finnish: Saari mojs, Swedish: Sarishoff meaning «high place»). It was a small estate, which consisted of a wooden house, household annexes, and a modest garden divided by two perpendicular avenues into four squares. This estate originated from an earlier settlement, which was mentioned in church inventories of 1501 and marked on maps drawn for Boris Godunov as Saritsa (Russian: Сарица). This name later transformed to Sarskaya Manor, then to Saar Village, and finally became the Tsarskoye Selo (meaning «Tsar’s Village» in Russian).
After the expulsion of the Swedes from the area Peter the Great gave the manor to Alexander Menshikov. Later, by an official decree of 13 June 1710 the whole area including 43 villages was assigned to Marfa Skavronskaya, wife of Peter who later became Empress Catherine I. This date of 13 June 1710 is considered as the founding date of the city. In 1717–1724 the architect Johann Braunstein built here a two-storied stone palace surrounded by ancillary buildings, and Y. V. Roozen created a garden with two ponds at the palace. Because of the growing number of servants, a separate village and a wooden Uspenskaya Church (1716) were built nearby. Around then the Sarskaya Mansion transformed into Tsarskoye Selo. The first street of the city, Perednyaya Street (meaning «Front Street», now Sadovaya Street) was established in 1720. Construction of the Znamenskaya Church, the oldest stone building in the city, started in 1734.
During the reign of Elizabeth, Tsarskoye Selo became the imperial residence. In 1740-50s the modest palace of Catherine I was rebuilt into a luxurious summer residence, the Catherine Palace. Between 1751 and 1756 the reconstruction was led by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, and the present look of the palace has not changed much since then. In 1755, the Amber Room was moved from the Winter Palace to the Catherine Palace. The gardens were extended and decorated with sculptures and pavilions. A canal was dug from Vittolovsky Springs (6 km from the Tsarskoye Selo) to provide water for the park ponds, and several stone houses were built on the Perednyaya Street.
The inflow of people to the area in the 1770s urged Catherine II to separate the Tsarskoye Selo from the urban area. By the decree of January 1780 she established a town Sofia nearby with a separate administration. Further construction works without imperial orders were banned in Tsarskoye Selo and most merchants and clergy were moved to Sofia. The town was divided into rectangular districts with a vast open place in the center. A wooden church of Saints Constantine and Helen and then the stone Sophia Cathedral (1788) were raised in the town center. According to Johann Gottlieb Georgi, in 1794, Sofia was mostly populated by the palace workers and peasants. It had a number of stone buildings, a church resembling Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, and a factory in the suburbs producing paper for state bank notes. The town prospered owing to the proximity of St. Petersburg and imperial attention.
A new park which later became Alexander Park was established in the 1770s to the west of the Catherine Palace, and in 1792–1795 Giacomo Quarenghi built the Alexander Palace at the north-eastern border of the park for the future emperor Alexander I. In 1808, Alexander I merged the Tsarskoye Selo with Sofia and proclaimed it a town and the seat of Tsarskoselsky Uyezd. In 1808, he appointed William Heste as the town architect, which post he held until his death in 1832. Heste compiled a master plan for Tsarskoye Selo, with division into quarters and associated gardens and orchards. Most residents moved from Sofia to Tsarskoye Selo and the former was converted to a residence of a military regiment. By 1817, Tsarskoye Selo had 15 streets, 354 buildings and a population of 4,000.
The Catherine Palace suffered from the fire of 1820 and was reconstructed by the architect Vasily Stasov. He also designed several buildings in classical style, namely the Manezh, Stable Building and Grand Orangery. Between 1811 and 1843 a wing of the Catherine Palace hosted the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum where Aleksandr Pushkin studied between 1811 and 1817. Several historical objects were created in those decades including the iron Egyptian gates by Adam Menelaws.
The first public railway in the Russian Empire, Tsarskoselskaya Railway, was laid in 1837 and connected Tsarskoye Selo with the capital St. Petersburg. Its length was about 22.5 km (14.0 mi) and the journey time about 40 minutes. The prominent Catherine Cathedral was built in 1840. The town was expanding and by 1855 had 44 streets, 10 churches, 400 houses, 8 military barracks, 3 hospitals and a female seminary. Tsarskoye Selo was one of the most developed cities of Russia. In 1887 it became the first fully electrified town in Europe, and by the end of the 19th century had a telephone network.
In 1905, the Alexander Palace became the main residence of the Nicholas II. Here the royal family was held under house arrest after the February Revolution. In 1902–1908 the town was equipped with the most advanced by the time water system with a separate sewer network and a water purification station. By 1909 the town had 30,000 residents and 19 schools. In 1910, an Imperial garrison camp was established to the north of the Catherine Palace, on the border of Alexander Park and the city. It had a separate cathedral (Fedorovskiy Cathedral), a dining hall, and two hospitals, one for officers and one for soldiers. The first bus route was opened in 1911, and in 1914 a powerful for the time 300-kilowatt wireless telegraphy station was built in the city.Léon Theremin worked at that station in 1918–1919.
In 1918, after the October Revolution, the palace and park complex was declared as museum and national property. On 7 November 1918 it was renamed to Detskoye Selo (Russian: Детское Село, «Children’s Village»), because of the large number of children’s institutions established in the area, and due to a general trend to renew Tsar-related geographical names. On 10 February 1937, on the occasion of the 100-year anniversary of the death of Aleksandr Pushkin, the town was given his name. On 10 June 1939 the Catherine Cathedral has been demolished by the Soviet authorities.
After the start of World War II, on 17 September 1941 the town was occupied by the German troops. Several buildings of the palace complex were destroyed or damaged and many artworks were abducted, including the entire inner decoration of the Amber Room. The town was liberated on 24 January 1944 as a result of the Krasnoye Selo–Ropsha Offensive.
Restoration of the palace complex was initiated already during the war. Public access was gradually re-established to the parks (1946), lyceum (1949) and six palace halls (1959). The Amber Room was restored only by 2003. The town was rebuilt in 1950-1960s. Several factories were established in the eastern part of Pushkin and in Sofia and two prominent monuments were raised in 1960, to Vladimir Lenin (sculptor Zair Azgur) and Ernst Thälmann (sculptor Arnold). In 1975, the town was equipped with a new water system and modern sewage treatment facilities, which were upgraded in 1999–2005 within a joint Russian-Finnish-Swedish project.
Since the early 1990s Pushkin became a luxury housing development area. Notable festivals are conducted every year on the weekend after the City Day (24 June). International carnivals are conducted in the town from 1995 and from 2000 Pushkin is a member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities. Large scale cleanup and reconstruction of the town was conducted before the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the town (24 June 2010). In April 2004 vandals pushed the monument of Lenin from its pedestal breaking the statue. The reconstruction of the Catherine Cathedral began on the place of the monument on 7 December 2006. Another monument of Lenin was heavily damaged on 6 December 2010 in an explosion staged by an unknown group.
The coat of arms of Tsarskoye Selo was adopted on 12 March 1831 as a crowned monogram of Catherine I. It was however not the emblem of the city, but only of the imperial residence. Two town emblems were proposed by Baron Bernhard Karl von Koehne, one in 1859 and another in 1882, but neither was accepted.
In Soviet times the town had no coat of arms. In 1990, the coat of arms of 1831 was registered as the emblem of Museum «Tsarskoye Selo» and for this reason could not be approved as a symbol of the city. The Decree of Pushkin City Council of 15 March 2001 approved the following coat of arms. It featured an oval shield with the monogram of Catherine I on red background. The shield was topped with a golden crown and had golden laurel branches underneath. On 25 March 2010, Pushkin Municipal Council approved the current four-panel coat of arms. Two of its panels feature identical crowned monograms of Catherine I on red background, and the other two parts depict a black double-headed eagle of the Catherine II era on a purple background. The eagle has a red tongue, golden beaks and claws and three crowns. In its right paw the eagle holds a silver torch burning with gold flame and in the left paw it has a two-legged silver anchor without a cross bar. The eagle’s breast is covered with a blue oval shield with a silver cross on it; the rim of the shield is formed by a snake biting its tail. This 4-part coat is named as «extended» or «big» (Russian: большой) whereas its one part with the Catherine I monogram is called «small» (Russian: малый) and is also an official coat of arms of Pushkin.