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Steppes Big 5: Palaces of St Petersburg

St-Catherine's-Palace-Russia

St Petersburg boasts some of Europe’s grandest palaces and residences. Full of fascinating history and some of the world’s richest treasures. Below are our top five palaces to include in a visit to St Petersburg.

1. Catherine’s Palace (Pushkin)

Pushkin is one of the former summer residences of the Russian tsars. Situated in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg it comprises of several pavilions, beautiful lakes and gardens and the wonderful Catherine Palace. The summer palace was originally given by Peter the Great to his wife Catherine, and was rebuilt by Italian architect Rastrelli in 1756. The palace is a huge, elegant building with white and gold Baroque mouldings set against a blue background and located in a beautiful park with elaborate gardens, canals and pavilions.

2. Peterhof

Peterhof is a must in the summer. Peterhof, or “Peter’s Court”, dates back to 1715 and is a former summer residence of the Russian Tsars. Most famous for its stunning golden fountains, the palace grounds house several buildings and parks.

3. Winter Palace (Hermitage)

The Hermitage is made up of the Winter Palace, Large and Small Hermitage plus the Theatre and New Hermitage. The Winter Palace, the official residence of Russian emperors, designed by architect Rastrelli in 1754-1762, occupies the leading place in the whole ensemble. The State Hermitage features one of the largest art collections in the world. It numbers about 3 million items, including masterpieces by outstanding artists.

4. Yusupov Palace

The Yusupov Palace is arguably one of the most interesting and beautifully preserved palace in the city. Built in the 1740s and then bought by Catherine the Great for one of her ladies in waiting, it was eventually purchased by Prince Nikolai Yusupov in 1830. Subsequently it was here that Prince Felix Yusupov planned and carried out the murder of Rasputin. All the rooms are beautifully restored and full of art, while the highlight is the exquisite private theatre, built for Zineida Yusupov, where renowned artists have performed.

5. Pavlovsk

Situated about 26 km from St Petersburg and only 5 km from Pushkin. The Palace of Pavlovsk was a present from Catherine the Great to her son Paul. Originally designed by Charles Cameron, it was partially redesigned at Paul’s request by several famous European architects including Quarenghi and Rossi. Severely damaged in World War II, it has been meticulously and lavishly restored and is set amidst extensive parkland which, when created, was the largest landscaped area in the world.

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