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Pushkin Village, St.Petersburg

Pushkin Village Excursion

Visit the sumptuous Tsars' Village (renamed 'Pushkin' by the communists but sometimes known as Tsarskoye Selo), which was the summer residence of the Russian Emperors.

The palace is located around 30 kilometres from the city in secluded countryside grounds - it took the Russian nobles a week to make the move from their city residences, and the train of carriages would stretch from the village back to the city centre. Tsars' Village is a unique ensemble, comprising a number of palaces, pavilions, and the dwellings of lesser nobles and servants, in harmony with lakes and landscaped gardens.

Jewel among jewels is the summer residence of Catherine the Great. The palace was given by Peter the Great as a gift to his wife Catherine, but was significantly remodelled by baroque Italian architect Rastrelli in 1756. Catherine the Great, with whom the palace is most closely associated, later commissioned classical additions by John Cameron, a Scot. The scale and beauty of this sky-blue monument to lost European grandeur are truly breathtaking. Among the many sumptuous rooms of the palace is the enigmatic Amber Chamber - a room constructed entirely of amber. The original was 'lost' during the German occupation, and treasure hunters still search for it in private collections. It has since been restored with help from the German government.

In addition to the Summer Palace, you are taken to the lesser known Pavlovsk Palace - not as grandiose, but somehow more dignified. The parks are very pleasant to stroll around and it is easy to escape the crowds and find a crumbling Tsarist era statue in the woods or meadows.

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