The Catherine Palace was the summer residence of the Russian Tsars build to rival Versailles. The Palace is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great. Although named after Catherine I the palace owes its splendour to Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I.
In Elizabeth’s reign it took over 100 kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors. When Catherine the Great ascended to the throne, this extravagance was censured by the new monarch. The major attraction in the Catherine Palace is the Amber room which is a chamber decorated with amber panels, gold leafs, and mirrors. The amber panels were a present from the King of Prussia to Peter the Great when they sealed an alliance between Russia and Prussia.
During World War II the palace was completely destroyed. Before retreating, the Germans set the palace ablaze leaving behind a terrible sight. For the recreation of the Amber Room alone, the process took over 20 years and costed more than $12 million.
There are many tours from Saint Petersburg to the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. It’s only 25 Km from Saint Petersburg but the lack of transportation make it very difficult to go on your own. Although going along with a guide on a tour will help you in some ways in another ways it’s very disappointing. Have in mind that in a tour you won’t have the freedom to explore and take pictures as you please. The tour have a tight schedule and only covers the Catherine Palace. The other attractions in Tsarskoye Selo are left out.
More information on http://eng.tzar.ru/