The Great Gatchina Palace.

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Gatchina Great Palace

Around St Petersburg

Shaped in a graceful curve around a central turret, the Gatchina Great Palace certainly lives up to its name – its enormous (if surprisingly plain) facade is quite a sight to behold, overlooking a vast parade ground and backing onto the huge landscaped grounds. Built by Rinaldi between 1766 and 1781 in an early classicism style for Catherine the Great’s favourite Grigory Orlov, the palace curiously combines motifs of a medieval fortress with elements commonly seen in Russian imperial residences.

It’s hard to call it beautiful, but there’s no doubt that it’s extremely impressive. After Orlov’s death in 1783, Catherine the Great bought the palace from his heirs and gifted it to her son Paul, who redesigned the exterior between 1792 and 1798.

Inside, the 10 state rooms on the 2nd floor are impressive, including Paul I’s throne room, hung with huge tapestries, and his wife Maria Fyodorovna’s throne room, the walls of which are covered in paintings. Most impressive of all is the White Hall, a Rinaldi creation from the 1770s that was redone by Brenna in the 1790s. On the balcony is an impressive collection of sundials.

Admission covers entry to the palace and all three pavillions in the grounds.

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