The Catherine Palace was built between 1752 and 1756 on land given to Catherine I by her husband, Peter the Great. Designed by architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli, the Palace is one of several major buildings that make up what was known as Tsarskoye Selo – the Tsar’s Village. While the initial development of the residence began under Catherine I, it was only during the reign of her daughter Elizabeth and through the efforts of architect Rastrelli that the Palace was completed.
In the mid-18th century, the main entrance to the palace was located on the south side of the building. A large courtyard was laid out before it, surrounded by a decorative fence with gilded details. The gateway was crowned with the Russian coat of arms.
Besides staterooms, drawing rooms and living quarters, architect Rastrelli incorporated a chapel into his design, which became known as the Church of the Resurrection, located in the east wing of the building. And, he was not only the architect, but the interior designer of the Palace as well, best judged by the decor of the Grand Hall, an enormous room that measures over 9,100 square feet. This bright and airy reception Hall exudes greatness and majesty, with its many mirrors, the abundance of gilding and, in particular the spectacular painted ceiling.
Our tour of the Palace took us through the Golden Enfilade, the suite of state rooms, each with its own special purpose, design and decor . . . but all including the ornate gilded walls, doors, and ceilings.