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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Visit to Catherine the Great's Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia

On a recent cruise to Scandinavia, we stopped in St. Petersburg Russia. This was considered the crown jewel of the whole trip so we were all excited to be dazzled and wowed.

We signed up to see Catherine the Great's Palace, in part because she was a powerful woman who reigned a great empire, and her summer home had a reputation of being made out of gold. Now, in our day, Marilyn Monroe led us to believe it was DIAMONDS that were a girls best friend, but back in Catherine's day, it must have been gold. And lots of it.  Needless to say, we wanted to go see this woman's bling.

Here is an aerial view of Catherine the Great's summer palace. As you can see, the place looks VERY French, which is what was the fashion during her reign.

When you walk in the first room, your mouth drops. There is soooooo much gold!  and it isn't just ONE gold room. The whole place is filled with room after room after room of those Rococo style gold plated rooms.

Gold with porcelain

Another room

The dining room

The ballroom

Needless to say, there was a LOT of bling at her palace.
After a few minutes, I got rather sick of looking at it.  I was overloaded with all that dazzle.
But then we went to a different room - the AMBER ROOM!
I was excited to see something different, but it, too, was rather ornate and gaudy.

This photo shows you the type of detail in each of the amber pieces. Even the frames were made of amber.

Then I learned this room is a REPLACEMENT of the original Amber room. The original was stolen by the Nazi's during WWII and is believed to have been taken to Konigsberg Castle which was burned down shortly after Königsberg surrendered to occupying Soviet forces.

The Amber room is more than 55 square meters and contains over 6 ton of amber in 350 different shades of amber. It took over ten years to construct the replacement room, being completed in 2003. It was then dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.

Here is a statue of Catherine the Great. Biographies say she knew she was not a beauty. In fact,  in the book "Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie, she is quoted as saying “I do not know whether as a child I was really ugly, but I remember well that I was often told that I was and that I must therefore strive to show inward virtues and intelligence. Up to the age of fourteen or fifteen, I was firmly convinced of my ugliness and was therefore more concerned with acquiring inward accomplishments and ws less mindful of my outward appearance.” Perhaps this contributed to why she surrounded herself with things she considered beautiful.

Catherine the Great was the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of sixty-seven. Her reign was called Russia's golden age, and by gold, they really do mean gold.

This is a portrait of her during her reign

Don't ya just love how she sits like a man with her legs apart? She doesn't seem to be one who would follow the rules.