If you are a Czar, you need a lot of space. Living in an RV sometimes we wish we had more space, but we consider Camp Casa our little palace on wheels that can be moved to new settings whenever we wish.
A city palace with a private art gallery and throne rooms, ball rooms, guest rooms. Perhaps a 1,000 rooms in all, in 4 buildings would suffice for Catherine the Great. This palace, after the revolution, became the home to the Hermitage. And we will cover the splendor of those buildings and the art in another subject.
They aren’t the only palaces in St Petersburg, there are the other royals, extended family, children and grandchildren who all need a palace or two. The palaces seem to go one, one from another but we saw only a few.
Catherine’s summer place is the blue facade with the gold onion domes marking her personal chapel. That is the location filled with her personal effects, bone china, tapestries and furniture, for public rooms and family rooms. The ball rooms there are still used (other cruise people went back for a baroque concert in the evening), and it is used for New Year Balls or weddings. I can’t imagine the glitter of the evening.
In yet another palace, we were treated to a concert in their personal theatre. Of course, a palace would have one! The quartet was perfect in their classical offerings. One of the guides along the way explained if interested in the arts at age 6 you are tested for rhythm and pitch, dance or art and are given lessons three afternoons a week during elementary school. The field is narrowed for a specialized high school and again for university. The finest are then sent to a conservatory for another 5 years before they begin the professional careers. Then, of course, the best of the best perform at the highest level of ballet, choir, orchestra, dance or art. At the end of the day it is a lively cultural scene. Cultural events are common and affordable in Russia because the arts are just as profitable as being a business person.
We went to another palace to see where Rasputin was murdered. Rasputin, the bearded guy, was a poor peasant from Siberia. Yet the Romanov family, who had an ill son, believed him to be a healer and a seer. Rasputin counseled the family and rose to have an inappropriate amount of influence over the current Czar Nicholas II. Other royalty in St Petersburg were concerned and lured Rasputin to dinner and killed him. These royal people were deported to Europe to pay for their crime, amazingly then, they were the only royalty to survive the Bolshevik Revolution.
The final palace was the gardens and fountains of Peterhof. A beautiful sunny day to stroll the gardens, in the St Petersburg countryside. Peter the Great visited Louis XIV at Versailles, saw the splendor of Louis XIV gardens and attempted to capture the splendor in his own summer palace. There were over 1,000 fountains at Peterhof. Meticulous formal gardens in the French style are adorned with statues and cascades. The fountains of Peterhof were unbelievable! We spent at least 2 hours walking around the gardens viewing the splendor and beauty created by Peter.