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Arkhangelskoe

Arkhangelskoe in Moscow Suburbs This historic estate dates back to the 16th Century, although it first came to prominence when Prince Nikolai Golitsyn, a favourite of Catherine the Great, began to build a magnificent palace on the site in the 1780s. The project took decades, and he died long before it was finished. In 1809, Prince Nikolai Usupov, the biggest landowner in Russia, bought the estate and continued the building of the house and park.

Usupov, the owner of over 20,000 serfs, was a famous epicurean and dilettante, whose social position did not prevent him from expressing admiration for Rousseau and Voltaire, the latter of whom he met and corresponded with. His collection of art contained over 500 paintings, and was renowned throughout Europe. He also found time to dabble in science and the theater, and lived to the age of eighty, surrounding himself with beautiful works of art, rare books, oriental porcelain and a harem of slave girls.

Although the palace itself, a splendid neoclassical pile with sweeping terraces and ionic-pillared arcades, has long been shut for restoration work, part of Usupov's collection is now housed in one colonnade, and there is still enough to see in the park to make Arkhangelskoe an excellent destination for a summer excursion.

Getting there: From Tushkinskaya Metro Station, bus No. 594 runs roughly every 20 minutes to the Arkhangelskoe stop - the journey takes about 30 minutes. There are also two marshrutka services, T-151 and T-159, which take half the time to get to the Sanatorium stop.

Opening hours: The estate is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00, except Mondays and the last Friday of each month.

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