The Russian town of Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo), just outside St Petersburg, has a marvelous ensemble of palaces and parks. It is particularly famous for its impressive baroque Catherine Palace where Catherine the Great lived and died. The palace was almost totally destroyed during World War II, but has risen like a phoenix from the ashes due to the unparalleled restoration effort undertaken since the war. The present-day palace was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the Royal architect, who created the Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral. Most of the restored interiors date back to the times of Empress Elisabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, though there are some early 19th century interiors too. Catherine the Great used to live in a separate wing of the palace, and when she was in her sixties she would still walk through the whole palace on her way to church. Visit the palace, stroll along the alleys of the park with its numerous pavilions, ponds and sculptures.


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