Derelict palace with the famed “Tsar Bath”
The Babolovsky Park is located behind the Catherine park and the Alexander park in the town of Pushkin.
The palace was built during the reign of Catherine II (year 1785) as a one-storey summer residence and a bath-house. The gothic style of the red brick building is in accordance with the fashion of that era and fits perfectly into the park landscape.
The Babolovsky palace was a one-storey summerhouse. There were seven rooms, each of them giving on to the park.
When looking through the gap in one of the walls of the octagonal tower, one can see a huge granite basin, a colossal monolithic pool carved from a single piece of red granite, about 2 m (approx. 6.5 ft) high and more than 5 m (approx. 17 ft) in diameter.
Catherine’s grandson, Alexander I of Russia, liked this place, and it is rumored that he held rendezvous with his lovers here.
Alexander ordered a renovation of the palace and had a giant granite bath made instead of the white marble one. It was crafted by a famous stonemason from St Petersburg named Samson Sukhanov.
In 1818, a chunk of granite weighing more than 160 metric tons was delivered to Babolovo from one of the Finnish islands. The only thing that craftsmen had to do was to cut off all of the excess rock.
The work took 10 years to finish and the quality was unsurpassable. As a result, a polished granite bath 196 cm (6.5 ft) high, 152 cm (5 ft) deep, and 533 cm (17 ft) in diameter with a mass of 48 metric tons was hewn. The volume data indicates that 8000 buckets of water, which is about 12 metric tons, could fit inside.
After the stonecutting works were finished, an octagonal tower was built around the bath. All around it on the inside there were cast-iron footways suspended on beams with handrails, stairs leading down and observation decks.
Today the cost of the Babolovsky palace and the adjoining territory reconstruction is estimated at 100 million dollars, but a sponsor is yet to be found.