April 20, 2006


In 1752 Rastrelli was asked by Tsarina Elizabeth to build a palace in the countryside outside SPB in honour of her mother Catherine, and it would be known as the 'Catherine Palace'.

It was subsequently taken on and considerably altered by her daughter the eventual Catherine the Great. Fabulous blue pile set in parklands - amazing.

In WWII this palace was largely wrecked - Leningrad was under seige by German forces for 900days.

The treasures of the Hermitage and the suburban palaces of Petrodvorets and Pushkin were hidden in the basements of the Hermitage and St Isaac's Cathedral.

At least 641 thousand people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put this figure at 800 thousand). Most of them were buried in mass graves in different cemeteries. The Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery, where almost 500 thousand people are buried, became one of the most impressive national war memorials. (Source: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/history/siege.asp)

In postwar years - even under the infamous Stalin regime, it has been reconstructed using photographs as patterns.

It contains the Amber Room, which took almost 10years to rebuild, and was only opened within the last decade. No photos of the Amber Room, it is forbidden to shoot the fantastic yellow, red and orange patterned walls covered entirely with pieces of Amber of every hue - looks a bit like the walls are spread with varieties of marmalade - quite delicious in many ways.

Amongst the potraits lining the walls was this one of the Tsar completed just a few weeks before he was arrested and murdered.

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