We’re at Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
Any of the river cruises to tour in Russia in St. Petersburg are going to include a visit to Catherine Palace. Usually things start early. We’ve been setting the alarm for 6am so we can get up, get showered (so nice for the other guests J) and down to breakfast which starts at 6:30. Then, it’s ready to go at 7:45 for the bus departure at 8:00am sharp.
This morning, we start with a trip to the outskirts of St Petersburg, Russia, to Catherine Palace, located in the little town of Pushkin. During WWII, the Nazis never made it into St Petersburg, but they got very close, setting up a perimeter not far from Pushkin. St Petersburg and the surrounding areas were under siege from Sept 1941 through Jan 1943, suffering constant bombardment and enormous privation.
This palace was originally built by Catherine I (died 1727) and then enlarged/enhanced by Catherine II (the Great) (died 1796). It is absolutely incredible, rivaling Versailles if not surpassing it.
The Catherine Palace was almost completely destroyed by bombings and has been rebuilt, using original drawings. Some of the original art work was saved prior to the destruction, however, much was lost because most of the rescue work had to carried out by women and children (the men were already at war) using horse-drawn carts. All of the people in surrounding villages helped to remove and cart away the art and hide it from the Nazis. You get the idea.
After the war, the Russian government has spent a lot of time and money (new real gold leaf!!) to restore nations treasures for anyone wanting to tour in Russia. It really shows in Catherine Palace — the palace seems to be in almost pristine condition.
This picture gives you an idea of how big the palace is – this is actually about half of it, looking to the right. And to the right – the front door – pretty impressive. Then some of the details below.
(click on any picture to get a larger version, press escape or back arrow to come back).
This is the front entry hall, looking up the staircase to the walls and ceiling.
One of the many dining rooms. That’s a heater in the corner, covered with delft tiles. There was a huge boiler in the basement of Catherine Palace, and it pushed hot air up into this ceramic furnace to heat the rooms. There is one and sometimes two of these in many rooms.
This is the Grand Ballroom – a huge mural on the ceiling – surrounded by windows. You can see all the gold leaf – and there are mirrors set between the windows, so the whole room is nothing but light. And then a doorway leading to the rooms beside it.
Here is another dining room – no gold here, but still very detailed.
This is the view from the back/garden.
This whole tour happened before noon. Next for the tour in Russia we go on an afternoon trip to Yusupov Palace and then on to the ballet – Swan Lake. All this in our tour in Russia, Cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
Anybody tired yet?
For even more images, check the Google entry for St Petersburg Tour in Russia images.