Image by Ksenia Elzes Lonely Planet
This stunning mint-green, white and gold profusion of columns, windows and recesses, with its roof topped by rows of classical statues, was commissioned from Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754 by Empress Elizabeth. Catherine the Great and her successors had most of the interior remodelled in a classical style by 1837. It remained an imperial home until 1917, though the last two tsars spent more time in other palaces.
Today you can tour the palace's grand reception halls and chambers, and wander gallery after gallery stuffed with Eurasian and Asian antiquities, as well as collections of European and Eastern paintings, sculptures and decorative art works.