Visit the Catherine Palace and park (Pushkin, Tsarskoe Selo)
The Catherine Palace (Екатерининский дворец) was the summer residence of the Russian empresses Екатерина I, Елизавета Петровна и Екатерина II in Tsarskoye Selo, which is now called Pushkin.
#1 The Catherine Palace
The Catherine Palace is the center of the complex of the palace and the park on this historic site. The splendor of the Catherine Palace museum displays the work of architects from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Catherine Palace is breathtaking. Can you imagine, that more than 100 kilograms of gold were used to adorn the sophisticated façade and numerous statues on the roof?
#2 The Great Hall
The palace is best known for Rastrelli's grand suit of formal rooms known as the Golden Enfilade. The Great Hall, also known as the Hall of Light, covers 860 square meters, and occupies the full width of the palace so that there are superb views on either side. The entire ceiling is covered by a monumental fresco entitled The Triumph of Russia. The Grand Hall hosted ceremonial events such as dances, formal dinners, and masquerade balls. More than a thousand candles were used for lighting.
#3 The War & reconstruction
During World War II, the territory of Tsarskoye Selo was occupied and the palace was almost completely destroyed, 80% of its interiors were lost. Prior to World War II, Soviet archivists managed to document a fair amount of the interior, which proved of great importance in reconstructing the palace. Of the 58 halls destroyed during the war years, 32 have been recreated.
#4 The Amber Room
The jewel of the palace is the Amber Room (Янтарная комната), rightly called a wonder of the world. To create this extraordinary chamber, Rastrelli used panels of amber mosaic and surrounded them with gilded carving and mirrors.
The room was completed in 1770. However, the original Amber Room was dismantled and eventually disappeared during the World War II.
In 1979, the Soviet government decided to construct a replica of the Amber Room which took 24 years and required 40 Russian and German experts in amber craftsmanship. Using original drawings and old black-and-white photographs, every attempt was made to duplicate the original Amber Room. which you can see now during the guided tour
#5 The park
The palace and park ensemble of Tsarskoye Selo is recognized as one of the best monuments in the world to the art of landscape gardening in the XVIII – XX centuries.
Within its grounds are about 100 different sculptures and pavilions, monuments and bridges. The marble bridge was designed by Vasily Neyolov and recognized as one of the best works of this architect. Blocks for the manufacture of the bridge were carved in 1770 under the direction of Italian master Valentino Tortori.
In 1811, Alexander I opened a Lyceum next door to the Catherine Palace. Among the first students of the Lyceum was the famous Russian poet and writer Aleksandr Pushkin.
In the summer of 1831, Pushkin rented a cottage in Tsarskoye Selo, where he wrote the letter to Tatiana from Onegin, completing the novel in poems "Eugene Onegin." In 1937 Tsarskoye Selo was renamed to the town of Pushkin, thus commemorating the centenary of the poet's death.
These are the reasons why you should definitely take a 1-day trip to Pushkin. I come here a few times a year, the palace and park are worth a visit in any season.