No trip to St. Petersburg, Russia is complete without a visit to at least one of the spectacular out-of-town imperial summer residences. The fabulous wealth of Imperial St. Petersburg is reflected in the magnificence of palaces in Tsarskoye Selo (= Pushkin).
Tsarskoye Selo, a town of Imperial palaces, is located 25 km south of St. Petersburg. The history of Tsarskoye Selo (literally translated as “the village of the tsars”) goes back to the early 18th century, when Peter 1 gave this land to his wife, future Empress Catherine 1. The first palace, known as the “stone mansion” was built and a park was laid out around it. The palaces in Tsarskoye Selo were built and redesigned throughout the last 200 years of Romanov rule.
The Catherine Palace, being the most famous attraction of this suburb, illustrates best the extravagance of the imperial court and the wealth of the empire’s natural resources. The palace itself is an outstanding example of Russian baroque architecture. By 1756 F.-B. Rastrelli created this architectural masterpiece, which delighted Empress Elizabeth and was named in honour of her mother Catherine 1, who was the 1st owner of the estate. Abundance of gold, lapis, malachite, marbles and other precious minerals decorate many of the rich palace interiors. Part of the fabulous gilded suite of rooms of the Catherine Palace is the legendary Amber Room, often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.
The palace park is landscaped and filled with pavilions and monuments.