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Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg

The huge building with azure walls, decorated with gilding and white columns, beautifully decorated inside and out - the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo can be called the embodiment of the spirit of "Russian baroque".

The palace did not immediately become so resplendent. At the beginning, in 1717, a small two-storey stone house was erected in the estate of Empress Catherine I under the guidance of Johann Braunstein without any special decorations. He was named the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo.

Under Elizabeth I, Tsarskoye Selo began to give a parade look, and they also decided to rebuild and expand the palace. The work was supervised by Mikhail Zemtsov. Elizabeth wanted to preserve the old building as a memory of her mother, so the process stretched out for a long time. The architects changed, after the death of Zimin his pupil Andrei Kvasov and Savva Chevakinsky joined the work. The future Empress Catherine II, who observed the changes in Tsarskoe Selo, compared the work of the masters with the classes of Penelope, who at night disbanded what she weaved during the day. Finally, the main Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli appeared in Tsarskoye Selo, and it was decided to overhaul the building. Rastrelli combined all the buildings together and increased the height of the walls. Five heads of the Palace Church rose above the northern corps. Then, under Catherine, the Church and Zubovsky corps were attached to the palace. Later, a separate Grand Duke's wing appeared (in this wing, in 1811, the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum opened).

The facades of the Grand Palace are decorated with numerous statues, stucco and gilding; it took 500 kg of pure gold. The interiors are decorated as magnificently - just look at the Golden Front Enfilade. This is the first palace suite in Russia, connecting the main chambers through the entire building, although later this arrangement of the halls became familiar.

When Catherine interiors of the palace took Charles Cameron, who removed the excessive pomp of the finish. Catherine complained that there was too much gold in the palace, but not a single comfortable chair. Unfortunately, the apartments created by Cameron for the Queen, died during World War II and have not yet been restored. The rooms of Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich of the same time were recreated.

In 1820, under Alexander I, there was a fire in the palace. The restoration of the building was led by the architect Stasov. He also designed the new Front Office and adjoining halls - all in a strict classical style, on the theme of the victory of the Russian army over Napoleon. In the 1860s, the Second Rococo style staircase appeared, designed by Hippolyte Monighetti.

The palace was officially called the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo until 1910, when it was renamed Great Catherine in honor of the first owner.

After the October Revolution, the palace was turned into a museum. During the war and occupation, the fascist headquarters, the Gestapo and the prison were housed in the Catherine Palace. The furniture and valuables were removed or destroyed, and the remains of the building were charred.

Currently, 32 of the 58 destroyed halls have been revived. Of particular interest to visitors is the legendary Amber Room, brought by Peter I from Prussia and mysteriously disappeared during the Great Patriotic War. Traces of her lost. Now you can see a copy created by modern masters from photographs and samples of amber.

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