excursion to the Catherine Palace

Pushkin — formerly Tsarskoye Selo, or the czar's village — was the home of the Imperial family from the days of Peter the Great right up to the time of the last czar - Nicholas II. Next to the parks and palaces stands the town developed mainly in the 19th century as a summer resort for the aristocracy and well-to-do of the capital of Russian Empire. In 1837 the first railway line in Russia was built here, linking St. Petersburg with Tsarskoye Selo. Pushkin is about 25 km. from central St. Petersburg, this time traveling south.

Tsarskoye Selo is quite different from Peterhof. Here, there are no massed fountains and no vistas over the sea. Here you are very much inland, in beautiful English-style parks, unrestrained by the geometrical formality of the Russian Versailles. The palaces again bear the stamp of the Baroque days of the Empress Elizabeth, the paramount example of which is the Catherine's Palace built by the Empress and named after her mother, Catherine I, Peter's second wife.

The palace rose on the site of previous royal residences, and its present form is primarily the work of Bartolomeo Rastrelli who took on the job in 1752 after he had completed the Hermitage pavilion nearby and before turning his attention to the Winter Palace in the city itself. Like Peterhof and its residences, the Catherine's Palace sustained much damage during the World War II but today it stands again in all its glory with its 300-meter-long facade, featuring a row of white columns and pilasters with gold Baroque moldings boldly set against a blue background.

Church of the Resurrection in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo

At the northern end are the golden domes of the Palace Church, and on the courtyard side sparkle the gilded gates designed by Rastrelli himself. Under Catherine the Great the building underwent substantial changes, Rastrelli's interiors being altered to conform with the canons of Classicism. Charles Cameron, the Scottish architect of genius, and the Italian Giacomo Quarenghi were mainly responsible for carrying out the many alterations and additions accomplished at Catherine's command between 1760 and 1790.

One of the most handsome rooms in the Palace, the Picture gallery, runs right across the building. Magnificent period pieces are on display in the State Study of Alexander I (reigned from 1801 till 1825), with its grand marble fireplace. The Blue Room, restored on the basis of Cameron's original drawings, is very close to its appearance as envisaged by the architect. The Throne Room, restored in 1969, is a wonderful example of the synthesis of the arts in interior decorations. Built on a rectangular plan, it is 47 metres long and 17 metres wide. The effect of spaciousness is enhanced by two tiers of arched windows with mirrors set between them, occupying almost the entire surface of the long walls. The light pours in from both sides.

Turkish Bath pavilion of the Catherine Park in the Tsarskoye Selo

The original Amber Room represented a joint effort of German and Russian craftsmen. In 1717 the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I presented the room as a diplomatic gift to Peter the Great. The room was first installed in 1746 in Peter's Winter Palace, where it was housed till 1755; that year it was moved to Catherine's Palace. The individual amber panels were carried from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo by 76 guardsmen in six days. They were not large enough to complete the new 100 m decor, so mosaic and mirror insets were added and the upper part of the walls was painted to imitate amber. The Amber Room was looted during World War II by Nazi Germany and brought to Königsberg. Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos at the end of the war. In 1979 efforts began to rebuild the Amber Room. In May 2003 (300th anniversary of St. Petersburg), after decades of work by Russian craftsmen, the reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in the Catherine's Palace.

Cameron Gallery Ensemble of the Catherine Park

The Cameron Gallery, which adjoins the Palace and forms a continuation of its park side frontage, offers one of the best views of the parks and likes of Pushkin. There is much to be seen, too the Catherine's Park to the east of the Palace, including the Upper and Lower Bath Pavilions, Rastrelli's Hermitage and the Grotto. Next to the Great Pond, an artificial lake, stands the Chesma Rostral Column, marking the naval victory in the Aegean Sea in 1770.

excursion in Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo Hermitage pavilion of the Catherine Park in the Tsarskoye Selo Upper Bathhouse of the Catherine Park grotto pavilion in the Catherine Park Palladian Bridge of the Catherine Park
Duration of the private tour in the Tsarskoye Selo — 4 hours
Number of pax Car Minivan Coach Price includes:
entrance fees transportation by car, minivan or coach assistance of an English-speaking guide (German, French, Spanish, and other languages upon request)
1 2 3 4 - 9 10 - 14 15 - 19
Price in Rubles / person 8100 4500 3500 2800 1800 1600
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