Imperial Railway Pavilions During the Reign of Nicholas II

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Nicholas II (center) arrives on the Imperial Train at the Imperial Pavilion in Tsarskoye Selo

During the reign of Russia’s last Emperor, three railway pavilions were constructed solely for the use of the Tsar and the Imperial Train: St. Petersburg, Tsarskoye Selo and Moscow.

All three Imperial Railway Pavilions have survived to this day.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: St. Petersburg

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The Imperial Pavilion was constructed at the Vitebsk Station in 1900-1901, by the Russian architect S. A. Brzhozovsky. It had a separate track, in which the Imperial Train could transport the Emperor and his family to Tsarskoye Selo. The line was also used by his ministers, who travelled from the Imperial capital to Tsarskoye Selo, to have an audience with the Emperor, when he was in residence in the Alexander Palace.

Traffic on the Imperial branch of the railway was opened in 1902.

The lobby of the Imperial Pavilion was crowned with a glass dome, providing natural light. The right side of the pavilion was reserved for the Imperial chambers with a luxurious hall and lavatories, and the left side consisted of a hall for the retinue of Their Imperial Majesties and premises for administration. The platform and track was covered with a special canopy.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: Tsarskoye Selo

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The original Imperial Pavilion was constructed of wood in 1895, however, it was destroyed by fire on 25th January 1911. A new stone pavilion designed by architect V.A. Pokrovsky, was constructed in the same Neo-Russian style as the buildings of the nearby Feodorovsky Gorodok. It was here that the Emperor greeted many foreign dignitaries. A special road was laid from the station to the Alexander Palace.

The richly decorated interiors were stylized as chambers with heavy stone vaults. The rich decoration of the facades and interiors corresponded to the grand presentation of the station, being an example of a synthesis of architecture, monumental painting and decorative art, which successfully combined the forms of ancient Russian architecture of the 17th century. with construction technologies and materials characteristic of the modern era.

The imperial chambers of the station were painted by the artist M. I. Kurilko, reflecting the chambers of the beloved suburban palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich.

In 1918, the station was renamed the Uritsky Pavilion, and was closed in the middle of the 20th century. The pavilion was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). Sadly, it remains in a terrible state of disrepair. It has been mothballed, waiting for an investor.

Imperial Railway Pavilion: Moscow

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The Imperial Railway Pavilion, also known as the Tsar’s Pavilion Building, was constructed in 1896 by the architect G.V. Voinevich.

The pavilion was designed specifically to receive the Imperial Train, carrying Emperor Nicholas II to Moscow for his Coronation in May 1896. It was built of beautiful facing bricks and decorated with Tarutino stone, crowned with a domed roof and a tower with a spire. The interior decoration and furniture were magnificent.

The plans, however, were changed – the coronation train from St. Petersburg arrived at the Brest Station (now Belorussky). Later, the Imperial Trains carrying the Emperor and his family still made stops at this station.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 October 2019

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