Catherine Palace

Facade

Catherine Palace (Екатерининский дворец;official web site http://www.tzar.ru/) or “Tsarskoye Selo” (Tsar's Village) can be found 45 minutes south of St. Petersburg in “Pushkin” which is home to several palaces. It's spectacular palace featuring the incredible “Amber Room” is complemented by the wonderfully tranquil surrounding gardens.

The Palace

Frontage

Visitors enter the palace on the ground floor with standard visitor services including toilets and gift shop. Before entering the palace all visitors must put on “booties” – slip on fabric shoes – to protect the magnificent floors.

State Staircase

Having put on your boots you ascend to the first floor by the grand “State Staircase”.

Great Hall

On the first floor there are a series of magnificent rooms with huge windows and gilt everywhere. Be sure to take in the details of the ceilings and walls. Incredible to think these spaces were primarily heated in the winter by the amazing white and blue ceramic floor-to-ceiling fireplaces.

Art

There is no photography allowed in the “Amber Room” but as you make your way back to where you entered the first floor of the palace you pass through a series of smaller rooms that served as the actual living spaces.

Chapel

A visit to the wonderfully ornate chapel is available at extra cost.

The Gardens and Grounds

Green Ponds

Not to be missed is a wander around the surrounding park areas, including Alleya, Aleksandrovskiy Park (free entry, close to the main palace entrance so perhaps somewhere you can wait for your entry time). This park also offers fantastic views of the front of the palace.

Gardens

After leaving the palace you enter the formal “Catherine Park” on the south side of palace which can be quite busy but definitely worth another wander.

Cameron Gallery

Lake in Gardens

Visiting Catherine Palace

Visitor Entrance

The main entrance to the palace and ticket booth is via the “Church Gate” near the north corner of palace. Queues can be absolutely enormous (group tours generally arrive first thing in the morning so unless you are REALLY early probably best to avoid arriving at that time). Entrance to the gardens is often free (such as before a particular time in the morning or at certain times of the year) so it is worth checking in advance. Audio guides are available and probably very much worth the extra cost.

See the official site for advance tickets for all areas.