Catherine Palace

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Garden St, Pushkin, Russia

Catherine Palace Pushkin Reviews

vances vances
581 reviews
Plenty of room(s)? Jul 02, 2016
This magnificent palace was begun in 1750 by Tsarina Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, and named for her mother. Catherine the Great picked up the thread and magnified the opulence (though she never favored this palace), which is what you get to witness today. The most remarkable fact to bear in mind is that much of the palace was destroyed during WWII and painstakingly resurrected.

Perhaps the palace is too lovely, because it draws huge crowds which detract from the experience. Another nuisance is the need to purchase a ticket to enter the grounds (the palace is nestled within sizable gardens) just so you can gain access to the ticket booth for purchasing another admission into the palace! To be fair, it is only 150 rubles at the front garden, but still annoying.

It had been recommended to get palace tickets online to avoid a long wait, but we were unsuccessful, even after getting our concierge involved in the attempt. My real life experience is to not worry about that – the second admission is purchased within the palace and everyone needs to queue up to make it indoors. There were no special privileges for anyone who already was holding a ticket and once inside it was quite expedient paying up for the second ticket.

The palace grounds open for business at 10AM, but palace tours do not begin until noon. It was a toasty morning and we joined a VERY long line at 11:40AM. Sure enough, promptly at noon a guard dressed in blue popped out the front door and waved folks in. I was disappointed when he halted entrance after a hundred or so had been ushered inside. As we sweated outside with the masses, it quickly became apparent the guard re-appeared every fifteen minutes. We almost welcomed him as our savior each time he emerged and deigned to permit another chunk of melting humans entry into the promised land.

Our struggle moved indoors with the cluster admitted at 1PM. Ticket lines were not long and moved rapidly, but the charge for the palace was 1,000 rubles. My guide indicated 550 rubles, but I assume they jacked it up for weekend and/or White Nights. Ticket in hand, you got to stand in line again. The final wait ended when an escort (speaking Russian) led our group of 20-25 folks towards the glory.

There is quite a lot to Catherine Palace, so in the interest of brevity I will only share details around two of the many, many rooms. One of the first you enter is the Great Hall. The square footage of this ROOM is over 9,000 square feet, more than double the largest house I have ever lived in, lol. Another fact to reflect on is that the Great Hall was patterned after the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and includes over 300 mirrors hanging on its walls. The Amber Room is the other masterpiece; originally assembled in the 1700’s from six tons of amber panels received as a gift from Frederick the Great of Prussia. The panels were stripped away during WWII when Germany occupied the palace and never recovered. In one of the most intensive restoration efforts ever, Russia invested 24 years (and an estimated $350 million dollars) to exactly replicate the room from photographs. Because the reference pictures were b&w, it is only the colors where there is margin for error. Given how the Amber Room was brought back to life, I found it ironic this is the only place in Catherine Palace where photography is prohibited, so you will have to take my word that it is stunning, and let us hope nobody ravages it a second time!

My review is already getting lengthy, so let me wrap this up by assuring you there is plenty more to see. Once you have been amazed by the palace tour, it is easy to invest several hours wandering the expansive grounds, Catherine Park (remember the first entrance ticket you purchased?). Lovely gardens, more buildings to tour, artistic bridges and serene ponds abound. Take your time and absorb, this was easily the most fantastic of the many palaces we toured in St. Petersburg.
A lengthy wait to get inside Cathe…
The blue guard, our "savior" who e…
We waited in line almost one and a…
Catherine Palace, Pushkin, Russia
8 / 8 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
simsing says:
Congrats on the feature!
Posted on: Jan 21, 2017
vulindlela says:
Posted on: Jan 21, 2017
aloneinthecrowd says:
Congrats on your featured review, Vance.
Posted on: Jan 21, 2017
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photo by: vances