One of the most accessible out of town trips, a visit to the beautiful Arkhangelskoye Estate
is also a very rewarding one. In summer classical music concerts are regularly held at the estate which is a good excuse to visit. But if you come at another time there is still plenty to do. While most of the buildings are not open to visitors they are suitably extravagant so that you can admire their beauty from the outside. The Italian gardens are scattered with ornate bridges, marble statues, busts and benches made by Italian artists and dating back to the early 1800s. It’s a beautiful place to wander through as is the more rugged terrain below the estate by the river.
The most impressive building
on the estate is the fabulous Yusupov Palace. The palace was begun in the 1780s by Nikolai Golitsyn under the design of French architect Charles de Hern. However, Golitsyn never finished the project and in 1809 he sold the estate and the unfinished palace to Prince Nikolai Yusupov, one of Russia’s richest men at the time. Yusupov took up where Golitsyn left off but not without some setbacks: the palace was pillaged by Napoleon’s troops and also attacked in a serf revolt. But eventually the palace was realized and Yusupov housed his spectacular art collection there. It became a center of Moscow high society with important guests dropping by on a regular basis. During the Soviet era the palace and the artworks were open for public viewing but it has now long been closed for restoration work.
The two symmetrical buildings that stand
across the gardens from the palace look similarly regal, but are in fact much more modern creations. They were constructed in the 1930s as sanatoriums for military personnel. Between these two buildings is a terrace which overlooks more gardens and the river below. Also around the grounds is a large domed building with granite pillared colonnades which was meant to act as a burial vault for the Yusupov family but was never used. A voracious patron of the arts, Yusupov also had a theater built on the grounds in 1818 so that his troupe of serf actors could perform there. But the oldest construction on the estate is the 1667 Church of The Archangel Michael, from which Arkhangelskoye takes its name.
The best time to visit Arkhangelskoye
is undoubtedly during the summer months. The wind factor can make for a chilling experience at other times of year. That said, if you can brave it then the estate looks especially beautiful when covered by snow in winter or when the leaves are changing color in autumn. There is also a decent cafe and a surprisingly high-quality restaurant on the grounds, where you can warm up in winter months or enjoy the summer terrace in the warmer months.
Entry to the grounds costs 20R ($0.75) for students, 50R ($1.85) for adults and an exorbitant 250R ($9.25) for foreigners, so be sure to pretend you’re Russian when you go. Entry to various exhibits costs more. Arkhangelskoye Estate is open every day except Mondays from 10am-5pm in winter months and from 10am-10pm during summer.
Directions: Arkhangelskoye Estate is located 16km west of Moscow. Take the metro to Tushkinskaya (purple line, north-west). From there take bus #151 to the estate. The bus costs 25R ($0.90) and takes about 20 minutes depending on traffic.
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