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Catherine the Great Summer Palace Facts

Located in Pushkin, a small town 24 km (15 miles) south from Saint Petersburg, Catherine Palace (aka Tsarskoye Selo) is among the most stunning luxurious royal residences in Russia.

Peter the Great gifted the estate to his new wife Empress Catherine I in 1708 for "her pleasure". It took almost ten years for Catherine I, together with German architect Johann Friedrich Braunstein, to create the new gorgeous royal Summer Palace. The royal country residence was amplified with the Blagoveschensky church in 1724 and later with the famous Catherine's Palace.

Empress Catherine I had the reputation of a great spendthrift, her luxurious palace was decorated with more than 100 kilos of gold, the roof was covered with expensive metals and a total of around 1.6 million rubles were spent on the construction of the palace. As the Russian Empress was a perfectionist, it is rumored that the palace was rebuilt 6 times during the construction! Interestingly, Catherine's daughter, Elizabeth I, was the one responsible for one of the last reconstructions of the building and was the one who approved the design it has today.

Amber Room in the Catherine Palace

One of the greatest treasures of the complex is the renown Amber Room, gifted to Peter the Great by King Friedrich Wilhelm. The room, decorated with panels made almost entirely of carved precious stone, was designed by Andreas Schlüter, a Hamburg architect. It was the integral room of the palace representing the wealth of the Romanovs. Unfortunately, the Amber Room was ransacked during World War II and the location of the original amber panels is still unknown. It took more than 20 years and 3.5 million dollars to reconstruct the room which can be seen today. Also, this restored building which suffered terribly during the war, proudly boasts being part of the list UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

As of now there are 2 imperial palaces in the Tsarskoye Selo: the baroque beauty Catherine Palace and the neoclassical Alexander Palace with mouth-dropping parks and gardens adjacent to the palaces.