Tea party for a duchess: Milovida Gazebo renovated in Tsaritsyno

Tea party for a duchess: Milovida Gazebo renovated in Tsaritsyno
The park pavilion built in the early 19th century is located at the intersection of Nestorovaya Alley and Utrennyaya Path. The gazebo was named after the scenic view (‘milovidny’ means ‘a pretty view’ in Russian) of the Upper Tsaritsyno Pond with an artificial island.

The Milovida gazebo (or Milovidova Gallery) was renovated in the Tsaritsyno museum and reserve. It was built in the early 19th century and supposedly designed by architect Ivan Yegotov (1756–1815), an apprentice of Vasily Bazhenov (1738–1799) and Matvei Kazakov (1738–1812). The pavilion is located in a picturesque part of the park at the intersection of Nestorovaya Alley and Utrennyaya Path. From the hill where the gazebo is located, visitors can enjoy the view of the bay of the Upper Tsaritsyno Pond which gave the gazebo its name, Milovida.

The gazebo served as a resting place for visitors strolling through the park. In the 1870s and 1880s, the pavilion was used as a tea house. Notably, the Duchess of Edinburgh (before marriage, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, daughter of Russian Emperor Alexander II) had a tea party in Milovida.

The gazebo has a classicist design, which is characterised by straight lines, a neat design, symmetry, minimalistic décor, proportions and shapes similar to ancient Roman architecture. The pavilion is structured as an arched gallery supported by 16 pillars, eight on each side. The vault has been painted using the grisaille technique in beige and brown tones. It imitates moulding. Grisaille is a type of painting in which colours of the same shade are used, usually, browns and greys. There are two wings on each side of the gallery that accommodated four offices at some point. Visitors used this place to take a break in.

At the bottom of the steps leading up to the gallery, there are statues of sphinxes on white stone pedestals. On the roof of the pavilion, there are planters and three female statues. The façades are adorned with medallions depicting ancient deities and an epitympanic space (a decorative wall over the top moulding). The gallery façades are decorated with medallions while side wing façades are decorated with triangular frontons with white stone moulding and head moulding (small triangular moulding) over the window openings also carved out of white stone.

“Despite some of the decorative parts not being found, the park pavilion has been preserved up to this very day almost in the same form as it was originally designed. It was done up in the early 20th century as well as in the mid-20th century. In 1992, the pavilion was seriously damaged by fire. It underwent large-scale renovation work in 2006 and 2007. This time, restorers conducted maintenance work on the pavilion, which is required on a regular basis so that the structure can be kept in good condition. How often such a job is carried out depends on many factors, including the condition of the structure, its age and the material used during the construction stage,” explained Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage.

Milovidovaya Gallery is a cultural heritage site of federal importance. The renovation was based on a project agreed upon with the Department of Cultural Heritage and supervised by experts from the department.

The renovation took several months, from March to July 2018. Both the façade and the interior of the park pavilion were straightened up. The façades were stripped of old peeling paint and plaster.  Cracks were patched up with a special cohesive plaster mixture. The surface of the wall was evened out and primed, to be later painted in a shade of light ochre. Decorative elements such as statues, medallions, top mouldings and the attic were given a coat of white paint. Additionally, restorers did up the white stone foundation outside and repaired some parts of the copper roof. During the final stage, the façades were covered with a special protection fluid to help preserve the architecture from any negative impact of the environment. In the former offices, restorers did up the ceilings, walls, wooden windows and also the doors.

The bell tower of the Church of Our Lady at the Life-Giving Spring is also undergoing exterior renovation work. The 18th century church will be fully renovated by 2019.

Between the 11th to 13th century, the area where the Tsaritsyno Museum and Reserve is now based was populated by the Slavic tribe of Vyatichs. In the 17th to 18th century, there was a village called Chyornaya Gryaz that was at different times controlled by the Streshnev boyars, the Golitsyn princes and the Kantemir princes. In 1775, Catherine the Great bought the estate so she had somewhere to build her royal country residence. Chyornaya Gryaz was renamed Tsaritsyno. Architects Vasily Bazhenov and Matvei Kazakov were put in charge of the architectural design for the palace together with the park ensemble.

After Catherine the Great died in 1796, the palace ensemble never became an actual royal residence. The empress’s grandson, Emperor Alexander I, opened the park for the public. In the early 19th century, the landscape park was completed in Tsaritsyno. The stone pavilions, Milovida, Nerastankino and the Ceres Temple, were built, along with alleys, paths and bridges. Dams and artificial islands created during Catherine’s reign were restored on the Tsaritsyno ponds, supplemented by new ones as well as piers and bath houses. Tsaritsyno became immensely popular with Muscovites.

In 1860, Tsaritsyno ceased to be the imperial family’s property as it was handed over to the Moscow Office for Royal Property. Part of the Tsaritsyno land was let out for the construction of dachas. The houses remained there until the 1917 Revolution. The Tsaritsyno Museum and Reserve was given this status in 1984.