From Peterhof we headed to the city of Tsarskoe Selo or Pushkin to visit Catherine's Palace, another summer palace built by
Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I. Before our palace visit we first stopped for a traditional Russian lunch of Borscht, salad, fish, and some type of fruit for dessert. When I was a child my Grandma Nitz
used to make Borscht out of red beets and cooked cabbage and it not only looked disgusting but I wasn't a fan of the taste either, well many years later the Borscht I had for lunch today was surprising ok.
Today's soup was not made with red beets and it had more of a tomato base to it and I actually enjoyed it, well at least sort of.
After lunch we toured the inside of Catherine's Palace
and no expense was spared all the way from the elegant entrance gates to the breath taking amber room. But let me start at the beginning. The grounds surrounding Catherine's Palace were carefully planned and are are kept well manicured they are also huge.
You can see in one picture just how large the grounds are on the entrance side of the house. Once we went inside the palace we were blown away. Every which way we turned it was beautiful. The elegant gold work on the walls in the Golden Enfilade room and
along with the detailed floors were stunning. We saw actors dressed as Peter the Great and Catherine I but the highlight of Catherine's Palace was definitely the Amber Room. It is difficult to explain in words how beautiful it was. When the palace was originally built the walls were completely covered in a lovely Cognac colored amber, hence the name the Amber Room. During WWII all of the amber was looted by
either by the Nazi's or by Russian soldiers but the room has since been restored using pictures to replicate the original room as much as possible.
Besides the amber room we also visited many other rooms in the palace such as the green room and others that are decorated for the period. None of the rooms in Catherine's Palace have the original furniture because of WWII however, when WWII was beginning some locales who realized the importance and history of all of the palaces in and around St. Petersburg tried to save some of the pieces, so between those pieces and saved pictures it was possible to restore Catherine's to some of its original beauty. I have included two pictures of Catherine's Palace one taken at the end of WWII and the other taken when the restoration was completed.
After we finished up at Catherine's Palace we drove back into St. Petersburg and it almost felt like Michigan, there was road construction everywhere Once back in St. Petersburg we visited St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral. St. Peter and Paul's is
the oldest building in St. Petersburg built in 1703. It also was built in the Baroque style similar to Protestant churches in
Western Europe and was a major departure from the more traditional Orthodox architecture. The most outstanding feature of the cathedral is its 404 ft tall spire with an golden angle holding a cross on its top. Inside the cathedral are extravagant tombs of most of the Russian Tzar's since Peter the Great. The most recent internment happened in July 1998 when the last Tzar, Nicholas II and his family, were re interred at St. Peter and Paul's. Even today people still leave flowers at the tombs of their beloved Tzar's.