It was in 1780 that Catherine II of Russia presented the grounds adjoining the Catherine Park and the Alexander Park to her then-favourite, Potemkin. A temporary wooden palace was built to house the lovers' trysts. It was rebuilt in stone to a Gothic Revival design by Ilya Neyelov between 1782 and 1785. The Babolovsky Palace was essentially a summerhouse with seven rooms giving on to a park, a quaint octagonal tower and no second floor.
Alexander I of Russia used the palace for his furtive rendezvous with Sophia Velho, a court banker's daughter. He commissioned Vasily Stasov to redesign the palace. The tower was replaced with a huge bath hewn from a red granite monolith. Engineer Agustín de Betancourt had it placed within the room before the walls were constructed. The bath weighed 48 tons and was 196 cm high.
The palace fell into disrepair after the Russian Revolution and currently stands in ruins. The granite bath mentioned in one of Pushkin's first poems is still in situ. Other structures in the Babolovsky Park (which covers some 300 ha) have disappeared, apart from an aqueduct from the 1770s and Adam Menelaws' gate separating the two parks.
|The palace in the early 20th century||The famed "Tsar Bath"||The ruins of Babolovsky Palace in 2009|