Volga River Cruise travel blog

Inside Catherine's Palace




Took off after breakfast for a tour of Pushkin village. Had a great guide who gave us a history of Russian nobility beginning with Peter the Great in the early 1700s. He apparently fell in love with a laundress and "entertainer" (who was called Catherine)who he made his mistress. As a surprise for Peter she had a very large and very expensive and ornate "summer home/palace" built. One of the rooms in the palace is 9,000 square feet with 25 kilos of gold adorning the walls and a canvas mural on the ceiling the entire width and length of the room. Peter was stunned and not pleased at the huge extravagance and never stayed there. They had a number of children, but only one survived - Elizabeth. Elizabeth was not able to have children, so a woman named Catherine was brought in to have a child for her. She had a son named Paul who Elizabeth took immediately and raised as her own. Catherine had very little to do with him, but when her grandson Alexander was born she raised him as her own. Catherine became known as Catherine the Great. Catherine added on to the palace mostly in the Russian baroque style which is very ornate. In one room the walls were covered completely in amber mosaic which was absolutely stunning. We learned that the Nazis had confiscated the palace during World War II and almost completely destroyed the place. They tore town the amber walls and pieces of the original walls have still not been found. The palace has been painstakingly recreated and is an amazing place. Surrounding the palace are beautiful grounds with a lake, gallery and other buildings. We returned from the village on the bus with out guide who shared with us what it has been like living in Russian through the various regimes. Grabbed a quick lunch on the boat and went back out with a different guide for a walking tour of the city. We took the metro - very efficient and inexpensive system and took an escalator that went way, way down - apparently one of the lowest stations in Europe. Walked all over the city seeing various churches, cathedrals, parks, statutes, etc. Returned to the boat for dinner, then back out to see a Cossack performance. We were exhausted and although the performance was not bad, we left early as it seemed a bit contrived and we were exhausted.

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