Catherine Palace

25 kilometers south from Saint Petersburg, in the town of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo), home to the Catherine Palace, which stands out as one of the largest palaces of the area. As used to be imperial palace, it is a reflection of architectural waves of the time, which the building lived through, and personal taste of Royal Family of the period. The palace was built as a summer abode for Empress Catherine I by Johann Friedrich Braunstein, German architect, in 1717. However, the building was “beautified” by the Russian architects Mikhail Zemtsov and Andrey Kvasov according to a personal wish of Empress Elizabeth in 1743.

Catherine Palace

In fact, the regnant period of Empress Elizabeth was the time when the palace gained its present beauty and style. In May 1752, after the Empress determined the building as too old-fashioned and small, Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli was asked to remodel it. Four years of complete reconstruction passed by and the Catherine palace became an amazing example of Russian-baroque style building.

The humongous Grand Palace can be seen instantly. Furthermore, the overhead porticoes of the palace facade were set in order to the basic dimensional coordinates of the park plan in strict geometrical arrangement. July 30, 1756 the debut of the 325-meter Palace stunned the Russian grandees and guests from other countries. The final touch of the Catherine Palace was the Main Staircase in the Rococo style, which was built in 1863 by I. Monighetti, the architect of Russian origin. The Catherine Palace became a museum, after the government was overthrown in October of 1917. It went through German occupation period, when many pieces of art and family treasures were burned, stolen and lost. Nowadays, there are 32 rooms of the exhibition opened in the Catherine Palace. It was completely refurbished by N. Baranov, A. Kedrinskiy, N. Tumanov, etc. One of the most exciting exhibits for tourists is the Amber Room, that was restored in 2003. In 1716 it was a present from King Friedrich Wilhelm I to Peter I, in 30 years it was completed and put in the Winter Palace, although moved to Tsarskoe Selo by 1755. During World War 2, the decoration of the Amber Room was moved out by the German army to Koenigsberg, which was the last known path of it before it was lost.

By 2003, the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg, the Room was completely refurbished by local restorers, who were funded by Germany as well. Nevertheless, many legends and stories can be heard about the original pieces of exhibition – they are still covered with myths.

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