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Pushkin, St. Petersburg

Pushkin is a historical town which was gifted to Catherine I of Russia by her husband Peter the Great. It was meant as a getaway from city life, located less than thirty minutes south of St. Petersburg. Although it takes a little time to reach Pushkin, you will be rewarded for your efforts. The town has a great history and dates back to 1710. There are many historical facts which relate to this town but perhaps one of the most significant is that the Russian Empire’s first public railway was opened in Pushkin. In 1837, the town was connected to St. Petersburg. This was a major development, and changed the future of this large country, connecting cities with vast distances between them.

The highlight is Tsarskoye Selo, which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is here that the two major attractions of Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace and the surrounding parks are found.

Catherine Palace
Named after Catherine I of Russia, Catherine Palace and Park was built between 1171-1723. Since then it has been rebuilt a few times. It was originally built with a Russian Baroque style. The palace was devastated by a fire in 1820 and rebuilt by the architect Vasily Stasov, along with the Manezh, Stables and the Orangery.

Today, the palace is vibrant and colourful. The most famous room in the palace is the Amber Room. This room is decorated in amber, gold leaf and mirrors. During World War II, it was looted and the whereabouts of its contents is uncertain, although if you visit you will find that it has been recreated. From the outside, the palace is decorated in white and blue, almost like a fairy-tale palace, were it not for the 100kg off gold that is used to decorate the exterior façade. Surrounding the magnificent Catherine Palace is beautiful ornate gardens, courtyards and out-houses.

Alexander Palace is slightly overshadowed by Catherine Palace but this two-story classical style palace, completed in 1896, is set in 120 hectares of landscaped parkland. It also has the benefit that it is not so busy, so there is less queuing time involved. This palace is slowly undergoing restoration, but this does not take away from the fascinating stories of Russian history this building has to tell.

A day in Pushkin
In addition to these main attractions there are many activities in Pushkin to keep you more than busy for the day including many museums, churches, cathedrals and even a Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop, which to this day, has a dedicated team that works towards restoring the Amber Room.

When staying at the Park Inn by Radisson Pulkovskaya Hotel & Conference Centre in St. Petersburg, reaching historic attractions such as Peterhof Fountains and the town of Pushkin is easy by public transport.