Catherine Palace

St. Petersburg, Russia | C.1717

Photo Credit: Natalie Tsereteli

When Queen Catherine I of Russia commissioned an architect to build her a summer house in St. Petersburg in 1717, more than 100 kilograms of gold were shipped in to assemble the ornate stucco facade and gilded roof statues.

Catherine used the structure as a summer getaway for decades until she died in 1796; at which point the palace lost its status as a royal retreat and laid in disrepair for decades longer until the Great Fire of 1820. Following the destruction, and the numerous redevelopment projects that followed, Alexander I tapped architect Vasily Stasov to restore his grandmother’s palace to its former glory, imparting an Empire style on the interior.

Following the failed siege of Leningrad during World War II, retreating German forces made a point to destroy the Catherine Palace, leaving just ashes and debris behind.

Much of the palace was reconstructed for St. Petersburg’s Tercentenary celebrations in 2003, but much of the structure is still incomplete today.

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