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A visit to Catherine Palace begins by climbing the magnificent Gala Staircase and culminates in the rooms designed by Rastrelli along the so-called Golden Enfilade. The most spectacular is the Great Hall, or Hall of Light, which measures 860 square meters and occupies the entire width of the building. The large windows, offering incomparable views, illuminate the extensive gilded stucco work that adorns the walls and the entire ceiling, covered by a monumental fresco entitled the Triumph of Russia. It is said that more than a thousand candles were lit during celebrations held here.

Among the many wonderful rooms, make sure you don’t miss the Portrait Hall, with portraits of the tsarinas Catherine I, Elizabeth, and Catherine the Great, and the Paintings Gallery, in which almost every inch of space on the walls is covered by paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The greatest masterpiece, however, is the unparalleled Amber Room. To create this extraordinary room, Rastrelli used amber mosaic panels that at the beginning of the 18th century adorned the private study of Frederick I of Prussia, and were donated to Peter the Great in 1716.

After they had languished forgotten in a warehouse for almost 40 years, Rastrelli decided to set them into the walls of the Amber Room, inserting gilded carvings, mirrors, gemstone mosaics and new amber panels, adding up to a total of 450 kilograms of this precious stone. Unfortunately, the room was plundered by the Germans during the Second World War; it was rebuilt identical to the original after 1979.

Something else you shouldn’t miss are the suites decorated for Catherine the Great by Charles Cameron, including the delightful Green Dining Room, the splendid Blue Lounge, with blue and white silk upholstery and the elegant Chinese Lounge, featuring upholstery painted with intricate Chinese landscapes.



An interesting fact: in 1942, the Germans sent the panels stolen from the Amber Room to Germany, where they disappeared a few years later. In 1979, the Soviet government ordered the reconstruction of the room based on black and white photos and original drawings. Twenty-five years later, in 2004, at a cost of 18 million dollars and with the efforts of some forty experts, this masterpiece returned to enchant millions of tourists.

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