Catherine Palace is located in the town of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo), 32 km from the centre of St. Petersburg.
This Imperial Palace was the official summer residence of three Russian monarchs: Catherine I, Elizaveta Petrovna and Catherine II the Great. The building was erected in 1717 by order of the Russian Empress Catherine I, from whom it has its name. By order of the Tsarina Elizaveta the facades were painted in a bright blue color and on the pediment was placed the coat of arms of the royal family. The Palace in public opinion was commonly associated with Catherine II the Great Russian Empress, but she hated it and saw it as out of fashion. After the fall of the monarchy in 1917, in the Soviet period the Palace was used as a museum. Today the complex of the Palace has been recovered in part, of the 58 rooms destroyed during the Second World War only 32 are those restored.
Of the completely restored rooms, the most famous are the Great Hall and the Amber Room.
The Great Hall or Gallery of Light intended for receptions, official celebrations and gala dinners. The hall with an area of 860 square meters, a length of 47 meters and a width of 17 meters. The 13 windows on each side occupy the entire width of the Great Hall, during the day the sunlight entering from the large windows shines on the gilding.
The Amber Chamber is one of the most famous rooms of Catherine’s Grand Palace, donated in 1716 by the King of Prussia Frederick William I to his ally Tsar Peter I the Great. Elizaveta, who was the Tsar’s daughter, had her removed from the Winter Palace where it was originally placed to furnish a room in the new palace. During the Second World War the Hall was looted by the Germans, who unglued all the amber, placed in 28 crates was sent to Germany where it was lost.
In 1979 the Soviet government decreed the reconstruction of the Amber Chamber based on drawings and photographs of the original room and a single color photo. After several interruptions due to high costs, the works were completed only in 2003 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the foundation of St. Petersburg, the completely rebuilt Chamber was reopened to the public.
The Amber Room is a room of 100 square meters whose walls are completely covered in amber with gold leaf decorations and mirrors.
The palace complex includes the beautiful park which consists of two parts: an old garden and an English park that is recognized as one of the best landscape monuments in the world of the eighteenth century.
The Grand Catherine Palace since 1989 is included in the list of monuments protected by UNESCO.