Spectacular -18th Century Interiors!
Catherine Palace and Park, the former countryside residences of the Russian Royal family are really worth visiting. The Russian monarchs used to live there during the summer. Such palaces are often compared with precious pearls in a necklace around St. Petersburg. Let’s focus on one of them, the Catherine Palace located some 25 km (15.5 miles) from the centre of St. Petersburg.
The land where the palace was built was presented to Catherine I by her loving husband Peter the Great, the tzar who founded St. Petersburg. However, the way the palace looks today is due to their daughter, the Empress Elizabeth and her favourite architect, an Italian, Francesco Rastrelli. In 1748 Rastrelli created a sumptuous palace, richly decorated with columns, curved and gilded details.
Every summer the Russian royal family, as well as aristocracy, came here for festive dinners, lavish ball parties and social gatherings. It was the favourite place to spend summer with another Russian Empress, Catherine II, known as Catherine the Great. Inside the palace, one can really feel the atmosphere of the 18th century and imagine easily the Cavaliers and ladies in fancy dresses walking among the visitors.
The Light Gallery, which is the largest room in the palace, has the total area of 929 m2 (10000 ft2). The walls are decorated with gilded carving and mirrors, in which there reflected some 700 candles as well as the diamonds of the dancing ladies.
Among the impressive rooms of the palace that stands out for sure, is the Amber Room, a chamber decorated with panels of amber, a semi-precious stone excavated on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The panels were a diplomatic gift to the Russian tzar Peter from the King of Prussia, where the art of amber working was at an extremely high level at that time. Though the original amber panels were looted by the Nazis in WWII and had never been found, the museum restorers managed to renovate the room in full due to pre-war pictures and drawing. The amber came from the shores of the Baltic Sea again.
Catherine Palace and Park
After the tour of the palace take a walk in the beautiful Catherine Park. The total area of the park is 207 hectare (264 acres). Closer to the palace there is the formal French garden, with cut trees and manicured lawns, the fashion of the 18th century. Another part is English landscape garden, less formal, where the trees are allowed to grow as in nature. So, in this park, one can enjoy both types of the garden. Today the Catherine Palace and park attract the visitors from all over the world.
In the summer season (June to August), Catherine’s Palace is open every day of the week (except Tuesdays) from 12:00 to 19:00 hours. Catherine’s Park is open in long hours (from 7:00 to 23:00 hours)
In winter, schedules differ and may be changing: October to April, the palace also closes the last Monday of each month.
Catherine’s Palace is located 25 kilometres south of St. Petersburg. You can go from the centre of St. Petersburg to Catherine’s Palace by public transport (cheaper but involves combining two transportation methods and a longer ride) or taxi (more expensive but more direct and faster).
Option 1: Suburban train + bus (or marshrutka)
You must follow this path:
- From Vitebsky train station, buy the ticket to Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) suburban train station.
- From Pushkin, train station catch the bus (number 371 or 382) or the minibus (marshrutka K-371, K-377 and K-38) to Catherine’s Palace
Option 2: Metro + Bus
You can use this combination in two different ways:
- Get to the Moskovskaya Metro Station and catch the minibus (marshrutka) K-342 or K-545 that will take you to the Palace
- Reach the Kupchino Metro station and take the minibus K-286, K-342 or K-545 that will take you to the Palace.
13.00-16.00: Adults – RUB 720; Students (with ID), Schoolchildren above 16 – RUB 360; Visitors under 16 – free. 12.00-12.40 & 16.20-18.40 (Mondays 16.20-19.40): Adults – RUB 520; Students (with ID), Schoolchildren above 16 – RUB 260; Visitors under 16 – free.