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My reputation as the Colgate smile poster child is being tested. The treatment of Monday did not work out, so tomorrow that molar has to come out. Oh well so is life.

Amongst the many things I read on the internet some topics I have been following for years. One such topic was the reconstruction of East Berlin from 1990 to today. It is quite amazing when you know that the City of Berlin in May 1945 was nothing more than a field of ruins, very little survived the intense bombing between 1942 to 1945.

At the end of the war the city was divided between East and West, the eastern part was given to the USSR and the western part was carved up between the UK, France and the USA. West Berlin was rebuilt, whereas the East, especially the old historical part of the City was left in ruins until 1990. The Soviet Union was making a political or ideological point. Only after re-unification up until now has major reconstruction taken place, transforming the city and bringing back its heritage buildings and parks.

Russia and the City of St-Petersburg has also seen major restoration since Vladimir Putin has ruled that country, he is a native son of the city and hundred of millions of rubles have been spent on rebuilding palaces, cathedrals, refurbishing palaces and its work of art and furniture. Millions of tourists visit the city each year just to see all the numerous palaces and churches and museums including the Hermitage which requires a whole week by itself for a visit.

Outside of St-Petersburg, going South some 24 Km away on the seashore, the various Tsars starting with Peter the Great built themselves Summer Palaces, Catherine the Great and many others did the same, then the nobility followed suit. So much so that this area was called the Tsar’s Village or Tsarkoye Selo. Many renowned architects mostly Italians came to design these palaces and gardens. Unfortunately, first the revolution of 1917 but more damaging was the occupation of the German army in June 1941 for 900 days ravaged the area so severely that only naked ruins remained.

After the war the government of the USSR spent time and money to restore some of the palaces, but mostly to turn them into dormitory for the poor or schools or government buildings.

The Alexander palace which sits across from the Catherine Palace, so named for Empress Catherine I in 1717 and then enlarge by Empress Elizabeth I a few years later. A third Empress Catherine II the Great will again beautify and enlarge it.

Catherine II decided to gift her grandson his own palace called the Alexander Palace built in 1792, he later became Tsar Alexander I who defeated Napoleon during the Russian campaign. The last Tsar Nicholas II and his wife and children lived in that Palace away from St-Petersburg, for reasons of safety. This will be the place were he and his family are arrested by the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky and deported to their death in Siberia. Until 1941 the palace was a museum to the Tsar and his family. However with the arrival of the German army, many of the treasures were moved to Moscow and the palace was abandoned to the Nazi who quickly destroyed it. It sits in a very large park with many pavilions and other attractions built for the pleasure of the Imperial family.

When the Arts council of St-Petersburg decided to start rebuilding the Palace in the 1990’s it was under the direction of Vladimir Putin who also decided to rebuild other palaces and churches making of the entire area a showcase for the world.

In the case of the Alexander Palace, the building had to be rebuilt, new roof, new floors and extensive historical research to present the palace as it was in 1917 when the Imperial family still lived there. No small feat, given the extent of the destruction, luckily large archives of photos and other documents helped greatly the historians.

The Alexander palace will re-open in 2022 and all the work will be completed by 2024. Some wonderful photos have come to us from the Tsarskoselskaya Restoration Workshop http://@tsarskoselskaya_workshop

They reproduced, tiles for the bathrooms and fireplaces, curtains and wallpaper, plaster work, chandeliers, woodwork and furniture, all of it had been destroyed. A gigantic piece of detailed and historically accurate work, all matching the historical photos of the rooms. Any visitor will be able to appreciate how the family lived in their private family palace. A very different place than the Winter Palace which was used for Official functions only.

A photo of the room with the chair used by the Tsar to read his newspaper,

Chair reproduced and to be placed in the mauve drawing room.

Entre-sol of the Maple room of the Empress, the tiffany glass around the mirror was re-created, and all the plater work of leaves and roses also had to be re-created, only charred brick survived.

Curtains reproduced for windows and over doors.

Period photos to help reproduce the furniture.

Hopefully one day we may return to St-Petersburg to see it again.

Alexander Palace and the great park in Tsarkoye Selo.