Moscow has countless parks from small neighborhood parks to former palace grounds. Tsaritsyno is one of the former palace grounds. The palace was built for Catherine the Great but ultimately she was unsatisfied with the results. Today, it’s a sprawling park with several small museums and a large forest park.

One of my Russian professors had recommended Tsaritsyno as part of a list of places to see in Moscow that only Russians usually see. I wandered through the park’s entrance and immediately was handed a bottle of free grapefruit juice. For some reason, there was a line of workers handing out bottles of grapefruit juice. When I left four hours later, they were still handing them out with no sign of stopping.

After walking past the first square, the first thing I saw was a large fountain with alternating bursts of water. I sat there and people watched for a while. I witnessed a wedding party taking photos at the fountain while I fed some pigeons. By the end of the day, I would see some thirty different wedding parties. This only attests to the park’s beauty. Eventually, I got up to continue my wandering. I decided to see only the grounds and not buy tickets to see the inside of the palaces since the insides were deserted. I doubted there was anything particularly interesting if no one was in there.

The next three hours were a blur of wandering around forests and palace grounds, coming across the strangest and most wonderful things. There was a chess tournament set up but few people playing; however a giant chess set was located in the middle of a meadow with a game in full swing. In the nearby forest, I came across statues of Greek gods and lampposts randomly scattered about. There was even a ruin crumbling away on a hill.

My favorite was an arch with Greek inspired designs and Sphinx statues in front. There wasn’t really a purpose to this open air hallway. It was just kind of there. I couldn’t find a single sign to identify it. It took me a while to find my way out of the forest, and I never did find the end of the forest. Part of the park’s allure is the fact that all the buildings match- they’re all the same coral colored stone with white trimmings.

To end my day, I got a late lunch at a little cafe on the palace grounds. It served traditional Russian foods and had an open air patio. So much of the time, I’m constantly running around Moscow, trying to see as much as I can since time is short, and often I’m with a group as well. It was nice to take a relaxing day by myself to explore on my own.

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