Tsarskoye Selo

Guide To Royal Palaces In St. Petersburg

by Anna de Nord
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Most of the beautiful palaces in Saint Petersburg are located in the suburbs of the city.

This guide will give you ideas of amazing 1-day trips from the downtown of St. Petersburg. All those royal residences include a number of museums and a big park. You can easily spend a full day in each of the places.

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Most tourists coming to Saint Petersburg head to two main attractions: Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. I bet not everyone knows that actually there are many other authentic imperial residences. They’re all located within 50 km from Saint Petersburg. Every place has its unique vibes: Petergof is more about luxury, Pavlovsk is more about harmony and coziness.


Are There Many Palaces in Saint Petersburg Suburbs?

The group of royal palaces in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg is often called the “Pearl necklace of Saint Petersburg”. Certainly, the name reflects the unique splendour of the emperors’ palaces and parks.

The “Pearl Necklace” includes Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, Oranienbaum, Gatchina, Pavlovsk and Strelna.

Each suburb “pearl” includes the main palace and a park. But there’s also a great number of other amazing museums. For example, except Grand Menshikov Palace in Oranienbaum, there are also Chinese Palace, Sliding Hill Pavilion, Palace of Peter III, Stone Hall Pavilion. Don’t underestimate them!

Parks are another important part of Saint Petersburg imperial palaces. Though they look like wild parks, actually they were as thoroughly planned and elaborated as palaces. If the weather is good, you can spend a full day wandering around ponds, canals, pavilions, statues, and bridges.


Peterhof Palace and Fountains

Peterhof is one of the most exquisite palaces and parks in the world. This splendid summer residence of the Russian Royal family is an embellishment of the “Pearl Necklace” of Saint Petersburg.

Grand Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia

These are just a few facts about Peterhof:

  • Peterhof is included in TOP 10 most visited museums of the world.
  • UNESCO World Heritage
  • Peterhof is one of the 7 wonders of Russia
  • 5 mln visitors every year visit this museum
  • Peterhof is the capital of fountains, also called Seaside Paradise

The Grand Peterhof Palace dominates the Lower Park and fountains of the Great Cascade. Fountains are the symbol of Peterhof.

The Grand Cascade is the main fountain complex of Peterhof. It’s one of the largest fountains in the world — the Cascade consists of three waterfall stairs and two grottoes, 75 fountains and 255 bronze sculptures, bas-reliefs, as well as other decorative details.

Pay attention: fountains don’t operate the whole year long — because of the weather conditions. If you don’t want to miss them, plan your visit for April – September.

During the high tourist season, the lines to the Grand Palace could be really terrifying. In case you are not in the mood to waste your time, remember that there are other Peterhof museums located at the same area: Hermitage Pavilion, Bathhouse Block, Monplaisir Palace, Special Treasury, Marly Palace… Just check thoroughly all the possible tours at the ticket office.

Official website of the Peterhof Museum


Tsarskoye Selo & Catherine Palace

Tsarskoye Selo is a part of Pushkin, a small town lying 25 km away from Saint Petersburg. Two grand palaces, shady parks, and rich history are the pride of Pushkin.

Tsarskoye Selo is a brilliant monument of world architecture and landscape art of the XVIII – early XX century. A whole group of outstanding architects, sculptors, painters gave life to the exquisite requirements of the Russian Royal family.

Tsarskoye Selo and Catherine Palace

The main attraction of Tsarskoye Selo is undoubtedly magnificent Catherine Palace. The palace as impressive outside as inside. Amber Room is probably the most known among royal rooms. However, other interiors and collections of paintings, furniture, personal belongings of Romanov family astonish even demanding visitors.

Another pearl of Tsarskoye Selo is Alexander Palace. Nowadays it is under restoration, but some rooms are already open for visitors.

Parks of Tsarskoye Selo are a separate open-air museum. I can’t even say for sure what is more interesting: visiting palaces or wandering in the parks.

Official website of Tsarskoye Selo


Oranienbaum & Menshikov Palace

The word “oranienbaum” means bitter orange (bigarade orange). It was the famous tree of Alexander Menshikov, the closest companion of Russian Emperor Peter the Great.

The Palace is located on a hill by the Finland Gulf. There was a canal connecting the palace and the Gulf. The guests of the Grand Duke could arrive at the palace by ships.

Menshikov Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The splendid Menshikov Palace by its magnificence exceeded even the Royal Grand Palace in Peterhof. The luxury rooms were decorated with marble and gold. The eastern gallery of the palace housed a real “eastern wonder” — a Turkish hammam, which Peter the Great himself visited from time to time.

Except for Grand Menshikov Palace, Oranienbaum museums complex includes the Palace of Peter III, Chinese Palace, Sliding hill Pavilion, Stone Hall Pavilion, and other museums.

The Palace ensemble of Oranienbaum and the city center are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Fortunately, the history of Oranienbaum is not so sad as the destiny of other imperial palaces in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg. Most of the palaces were ruined and devastated by Nazi. Oranienbaum palaces were not destroyed during World War II. Nowadays we can see them in their authentic condition.

Pay attention: Oranienbaum is the name of the palace ensemble. It is located in Lomonosov, a suburb of Saint Petersburg.

Official website of Oranienbaum


Gatchina

The Grand Gatchina Palace stands apart from other palace suburbs of Saint Petersburg. The palace was built in the style of an English hunting castle. This style is unusual for Russia. In fact, lined with limestone, Gatchina Palace looks more like a medieval castle.

Gatchina Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Imperial Palace in Gatchina

The large park with lakes, pavilions, decorative bridges, and other embellishments adjoins the Great Gatchina Palace.

The Grand Gatchina palace belonged to different members of the royal family. During centuries it was reconstructed a few times. But still, the palace interiors strike with harmony and luxury.

While visiting the Grand Palace, don’t forget to climb the Signal Tower and to enjoy a lovely view of the park. Don’t miss another Gatchina’s architectural landmark — the Priory Palace built for the Knights of the Maltese order.

In 1990 Gatchina Palace and park received UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Official website of Gatchina Palace


Pavlovsk

Unlike baroque palaces of Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo, classic Pavlovsk Grand Palace is refined and strict. But simplicity never satisfied the royal family. And the sumptuous interior decor of emperor palaces amazes us!

Romanov Palace in Pavlovsk (St. Petersburg, Russia)

The history of the palace goes back to XVIII century when Emperor Paul I gave Pavlovsk the status of the official imperial residence.

The modern collection of the palace originates from the collection collected by the emperor and his wife during their trip to Europe. Richest collections include Roman marble and bronze sculptures, European painting of the XVI-XVIII centuries, porcelain of the XVIII-XIX centuries, genuine furniture and tapestries.

Official website of Pavlovsk Palace


Strelna & Konstantin Palace

The grand residence in Strelna was founded by Peter the Great. Nowadays Strelna and Konstantin Palace are considered as a “diplomatic window to Europe”.

Konstantin Palace combines the functions of a State residence and a modern business, museum and exhibition center. It’s a place for the highest rank international meetings and events with the participation of the President, Prime Minister and Administration of the President of the Russian Federation.

Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Konstantin Palace in Strelna is considered as a “diplomatic window to Europe”

We can visit the Palace and surrounding parks only with a guide. Moreover, you can book the Palace for a wedding or a birthday celebration. Besides, you can take a tour of the palace wine cellars and taste wine.

Official website of Strelna


Tips for Visiting Palaces

  • If you want to visit those palaces, envisage at least 1 full day for each suburb.
  • Grand Palaces (the main palaces) are the must-see attractions. However, remember that there are many smaller palaces and parks around them.
  • If you visit Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo during high season (May—September), be ready for long lines on the entry to the Grand Palaces. Other Royal suburb residences are less crowded.

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If you’re planning to visit Russia, here are some other helpful posts:

1. The Best Time To Visit Russia
2. Discover Places to Visit in Russia
3. How to Enter St. Petersburg, Russia With No Russian Visa

I hope that this Guide to Royal Palaces in Saint Petersburg will make your tour of imperial suburbs more interesting.

Happy travels! And don’t forget to share your experience if you have visited one of the Saint Petersburg royal palaces!


Best wishes from Russia,
Anna

19 comments

Leave a Comment

19 comments

NurseBackpacker 14.02.2019 - 6:01 pm

I’ve always been curious about St. Petersburg and your photos are just beautiful, thank you for sharing. Another place to add to the bucket list! 🙂

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Anna de Nord 25.02.2019 - 11:29 am

Thanks, Carrie! I like a lot your travel blog )) Hope one day you’ll visit St. Petersburg too.

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Raluca 14.02.2019 - 10:38 pm

Saint Petersburg and Moscow are high on my bucket list. Thank you for all the photos and information. It was a great read.

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Anna de Nord 25.02.2019 - 11:30 am

You are welcome, Raluca! If you have any questions about trips to Moscow or St. Petersburg, don’t hesitate to send me a message )

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Ann F. Snook-Moreau 27.02.2019 - 9:01 pm

All of these palaces are so beautiful! I would really love to explore their giant gardens, though. Thanks for the insider tips!

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Anna de Nord 27.02.2019 - 9:49 pm

Thanks, Ann! Yes, all royal palaces and gardens are really beautiful )

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Liz Bayardelle 28.02.2019 - 2:32 am

Russia is such a gorgeous country! I have always wanted to try traveling there, in St Petersburg might be the first city we try! Such a great guide.

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Anna de Nord 28.02.2019 - 10:36 am

Thanks, Liz! I may seem biased but I really think St. Petersburg is a must-see city in Russia.

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Karen Monica 28.02.2019 - 7:48 am

OMG, the royal palaces in Saint Petersburg look simply amazing. I would love to travel and visit those palaces.

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Anna de Nord 28.02.2019 - 10:34 am

Yes, the royal family knew sense in luxury )))

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LuciWest 01.03.2019 - 12:09 am

Hello from St. Petersburg in Florida! Now, I’ll say St. Pete (as this Florida town is mostly called) has its own charms and warm weather and super beautiful beaches – but your St. Petersburg in Russia has the real goods. These palaces and gardens and statues are incredible. Thank you so much for this visual and informational journey. Will be saving this to Pinterest to share and revisit.
xx Luci
Happier.Place

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Anna de Nord 01.03.2019 - 4:54 pm

Luci, I’ve seen amazing pictures from your dreamy beaches in St. Pete, they look like heaven )) By the way, US St. Pete was named after Russian St. Petersburg because the founder of St. Pete — Pyotr Dementiev — spent his youth in Russian St. Petersburg and loved it a lot.

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Marjie Mare 01.03.2019 - 7:15 am

Everything looks so beautiful and grandiose. Your pictures are absolutely great, thanks for sharing with me.

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Anna de Nord 01.03.2019 - 4:55 pm

You are welcome, Marjie! Thanks for stopping by ))

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aisasami 01.03.2019 - 2:41 pm

I know some of these palaces through researching the Russian royal family throughout the years. And, I think the movie Anastasia was inspired by these castles. I know I can recognize theMenshikov Palace.

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Anna de Nord 01.03.2019 - 4:58 pm

Real princess Anastasia lived in one of those palaces so no doubt that the movie creators were inspired by all this luxury.

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Gill Trotman 01.03.2019 - 7:40 pm

Mesmerizing photos! The royal palaces of Saint Petersburg look stunning. I need to take my wife to explore here, she would love it. Thank you for sharing!

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Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:28 pm

Women usually like luxury palaces, good parks and other royal stuff )) So I suppose your wife would really enjoy such a trip.

Reply
Chima obi 03.03.2019 - 1:30 am

Such an amazing and stunning place, Will so much love to visit this place someday, The architectures are awesome and the pictures are breathtaking.

Reply

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