Thursday, August 7, 2014

Baltic Cruise: St. Petersburg, Part 5 (Catherine Palace)

Hi Mom!!!  I've been neglecting the blog lately...but I've been going through stuff that's been in storage for 7 years, deciding what's really still worth keeping.  And also procrastinating, because after a while going through all that stuff just gets kind of boring.

But enough of that, let's go back to St. Petersburg.  More accurately, let's go to Tsarskoye Selo, 15 miles away from St. Petersburg, for a visit to the Catherine Palace, the summer home of the tsars.

The Russians love their gold, man.

The first Catherine palace was built by Catherine I, but it's been torn down and redone numerous times and is now most associated with Catherine the Great (she was #2) which is funny since she didn't particularly like it that much.  But it looks pretty spectacular now, and that's just the front gate.

Proof that I was there!  I like the blue color on the walls.  Did I tell you already why a lot of the buildings in SP have brightly colored facades?  The climate is too harsh for things like the marble that's so popular in Italy, so they did this instead.  I like it; gives SP a different vibe than other European cities (and yes, SP is and was always meant to be a European city).

Ominous skies.  We did get sprinkled on.

All that trim that's painted mustard used to be gilded; Catherine was a bit horrified at the expense of it (and she thought it was tacky) so she had it taken off.

Hey look, it's got my initial on it!  Think that means it's mine?  Teehee.

So just inside the door is a beautiful staircase (pic later I think) and this area used to have a lot of Oriental decor, so this is part of the original decor that was kept after it was renovated.  One of the times it was renovated, because there were several.

Let no surface go undecorated, not even the ceilings!

This is Lee's beautiful artsy shot for the day, and you can see the staircase in the background.

Check out the ballroom.  Covered in gold, natch.

That, my friends, is the most awesomest looking ceramic heater in the history of ever.  I kind of want one.  I have no idea where I would put it, but I kinda totally love it.

So you can see a bit more of the decor...they actually had those big ceramic heaters in quite a few of the rooms.  And I think that this was one of those places that has the really thick walls because inside the walls are servants' passages so they can get from place to place without being seen.  They probably doubled as clandestine make-out spots.

Another pretty photo from Lee : )

So somehow paintings of dead animals in the dining room are supposed to make you hungrier?  I think not.  (Look at the rabbit in the painting to the right.)

So the interior of the Catherine Palace had to be completely redone after World War II because the Germans looted and vandalized it on their retreat from the siege of Leningrad (which is what St. Petersburg was called at the time...for a while it was Petrograd, too).  Lucky for the Russians, they had a good collection of photographs of the interiors from before the war so they were able to recreate a lot of the original splendor.  That included the famous Amber Room, which we were not allowed to photograph; part of the restoration of the Amber Room was financed by donations from Germany to say sorry for that whole looting thing.

Love the woodwork on the floor in here!

Heyyy there's the staircase again.

We didn't see much of the gardens at Tsarskoye Selo; it was kind of drizzly.

Catherine Palace selfie!  And that's all she wrote for today.  We got our unaccompanied baggage today, which included some stamping supplies, so I'm going to go hug and love on them and organize them and maybe if I'm lucky I'll even make something.  Ta-ta!


CCsMom said...

LOVE the selfie pic and the two artsy ones Lee took. This looks almost like the day we were in Versailles, same weather and everything. Same gold . . . I love the told onion domes.

Seems like your trip was just in time as it almost seems like a childish one-upmanship thing going on now with Putin. Neyh.

Beautiful pics. I enjoyed my trip down YOUR memory lane!

Vicki Burns said...

Wow! That's quite the palace. That very gold ballroom reminds me of the hall of mirrors at Versailles.

As for the servant/make out space between the walls...did you two take advantage of one? 😊