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Though this former residence of Russian tsars has experienced architectural influences and succumbed to the plunders of a war in its 300-year history, this grande dame of palaces still exudes the opulence that reflects the golden era of Europe's royal houses.
The tsars founded the town of Pushkin in 1710 as a royal residence known as Tsarskoye Selo, or "Tsar Village," which comprises the Catherine and Alexander Palaces and parks.
Peter the Great commissioned the initial palace in 1717 and named it after his wife, Catherine I. Yet, today's structure dates to 1756, thanks to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth.
The Empress spared no expense after razing the original palace to the ground, in order to build an austere summer residence. The exterior alone drips in 100 kilos worth of gold.
When Catherine the Great ascended the throne in the 18th century, she found the Rococo style old-fashioned and had some rooms refurbished and parts expanded in Neoclasical style.
The Nazis removed the original 450 kilos of amber panels in 1941 and sent them to Königsburg, but the ultimate whereabouts of these remain a mystery.Today's room dates to 2003.
During the peak summer season (June - August), the palace is open from Wednesday - Sunday from 12:00PM to 7:00PM; Monday from 12:00PM to 8:00PM; Closed Tuesdays.
You can purchase tickets only at two park entrances from 10:00AM: at the Main Entrance and the Hermitage Kitchen, also known as the Red Gate. Tickets indicate the time you may enter the palace. Admission includes entry into Catherine Park and costs 520 rubles for adults, children under 18 are free. An audio guide costs 150 rubles. Tours in English are free for a group minimum of 15 people.
You will receive a voucher once you book your tickets in advance online. You need to present this voucher at the Church Gate entrance (May - September), in order to get the actual tickets. Don't forget to bring your photo ID and arrive no later than 10 minutes prior to your scheduled entry time.
Take the suburban trains from either Vitebsy Railway Terminal or Kupchino Railway Station to "Tsarskoye Selo" (Pushkin) station. Then transfer to bus 371 or 382 or minbus taxi 377 to Catherine Palace and Park. From Moskovskaya metro station, take minibus taxi 342 or 545 to Catherine Palace Park. Bus 186 runs from Zvezdnaya and Kupchino metro stations to the palace.
- When to visitFrom June to August, the palace is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00PM to 7:00PM; Monday from 12:00PM to 8:00PM.
- What is the price?Adult tickets are 520 Ruble, which is just under $10.
- Will I need a guide?It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out these best-selling tours.
- How to get thereCheck trains from your location, then buses 371, 382, 186, or minibus taxis 377, 342 or 545 to Catherine Palace/Park.
- Additional tips
- Consult a map to plan your visit in advance.
- Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.