10 Russian palaces you can visit virtually

How to explore using Google Street View

In the images below you can click "View on Google Maps". 

If you enlarge the map on the left you see blue lines and blue dots. This is helpfull to navigate the area. The blue dots represent 360-degree images. You can click on them and have a look around. The blue lines represent streets and paths. When you see a lot of blue lines close together this often means that this is in fact inside a building or a garden.

A virtual vist to the Russian palaces of the Romanovs 

The palaces of the Romanovs come in a variety of colours; yellow, blue, green and pink. Many of them can be found in and around Saint Petersburg. 

If a trip to this beautiful City of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, is not likely to be possible soon, you can take a virtual tour around many of the Russian palaces and museums. 

DISCLOSURE: I get commissions for purchases made through some of the links in this article.

1. The Winter Palace

Click the image above to find yourself in the The Winter Palace. This residence of the Romanov family was built and rebuild again and again. The last version we can see today was commissioned by Empress Elizabeth (Elizaveta Petrovna) in 1754. Until the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, all Romanov's used this palace as their main residence. As the tension in Russia against the Imperial family grew, they realised that this palace was too big to be safely secured. The family moved to smaller palaces and the Winter Palace was only used for state ceremonies, balls and receptions.

The Winter Palace is only one of the buildings that together form the State Hermitage Museum.

You can use Google Streetview to wander around other parts of the huge Hermitage Museum and surrounding St. Petersburg. 

On the website of the Hermitage Museum, you can find extended Virtual Visits for all parts of the museum, including The Winter Palace of Peter the Great., The Palace of Menshikov and The Hermitage Theatre.

2. Catherine Palace 

Build for Catherine I of Russia, this Palace in Tsarskoye Selo was the favourite residence of her predecessor Catherine II.

This summer residence for the Russian Tsars was first built by Peter the Great in 1717. He names the palace after his wife, Catherine I.

Empress Elizabeth had the palace completely torn down and started over. Her predecessor Catherine the Great, in her turn, refurnished the place, as she thought it was very outdated. 

You can walk around the palace on google maps, to admire the beautiful colors of the blue and gold palace. You can also see several rooms inside, including The Great Hall, or Light Gallery, of approximately 1,000 square meters which occupies the entire width of the palace. Click on the image to the right to step inside.

3. Gatchina Palace

In France and England, you find palaces build for the mistresses of the Kings. In Russia, you can find the palaces of the Tsarina's lovers.  Both  Elizabeth (1741–62), and Catherine the Great (1762–96) had official favourites, exactly like the French kings had their Maitresse en-Titre. These men occupied apartments that were in direct contact with the Tsarina's bedroom. On top of this, they would occasionally receive their own palace.

Gatchina Palace was built for Count Grigori Grigoryevich Orlov. He was the favourite of Catherine the Great who helped her during the coup that overthrew Peter III of Russia. 

4. The Grand Peterhof Palace 

On the website of the Peterhof Museum, you can watch a live stream from the Grand Cascade and several videos with online tours. The comments are in Russian, so you will have to make up your own story if that's not your language...

The Peterhof complex actually consists of several minor palaces. 

Peter the Great got inspired by his visit to the Palace of Versailles in 1717, and build his own Russian Versailles here in Petergof, Saint Petersburg.

The first Palace he built was Monplaisir Palace, overseeing the Gulf of Finland.

The Grand Palace is the one that looks very imposing from the lower gardens, but is not that big at all, with only about thirty rooms. 

In the beautiful gardens you will also find the small Hermitage  and the Cottage Palace and Farmer's palace  in the Alexandria Park

5. Oranienbaum 

Oranienbaum became the summer residence of Grand Duke Peter Fedorovitch, the nephew and heir of Empress Elizabeth, in 1743. It was the residence of the "young court", meaning the Grand Duke and his wife, the later Catherine the Great. Catherine had her first extramarital affairs here. 

In the vast park you can find the Grand Menshikov Palace, named after the first inhabitant, Prince Menshikov. Other interesting buildings are Tsar Peter III's bachelor palace and The Chinese Palace, build for Catherine the Great who was grabbed by the European fashion to like all things Chinese.

6. Kuskovo Palace

Kuskovo Palace is one of the first great summer country estates build for members of the Russian nobility, the Sheremetev family.
Everything on the Kuskovo Estate was to entertain and impress the visitors.

I personally love 'The Dutch House', a 'traditional' brick house where meals were served in the 'kitchen'. The house is heavily decorated with tiles from Delft and China. No real Dutch house ever looked this way, but isn't that usually the case with replicas? 

Peter the Great loved Holland and spent many months there. Pyotr Borisovich Sheremetev was raised at Court by tsar Peter I, as a companion for the Tsarevich. He must have picked up his love for Holland there.

7. Pavlovsk Palace

The Pavlovsk Palace was a gift from Catherine the Great to her son, Grand Duke Paul, and his wife Maria Feodorovna. In 1781, while the constructions on the site began, Paul and Maria travelled through Europe. They visited  King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at Versailles and Chantilly. This gave them lots of inspiration for their own new palace. They came back from Europe with hundreds of pieces of porcelain and purchased statues, busts, paintings, furniture and ninety-six clocks.

You can take a look in the  State Bedroom of Maria Feodorovna, clearly inspired by the state bedroom of the King of France, and the Italian hall  which is a replica of a Roman temple, very fashionable at the time. 

8. Kadriorg Palace

This small Baroque palace is another one that is built by order of Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I. Nowadays it is located in Estonia and it houses the Art Museum of Estonia. The museum offers several resources to virtually enjoy their collections. 

On Google Street View you can visit the gardens and a few rooms inside the palace. 

9. Yelagin Palace 

Yelagin Palace was build for Maria Fyodorovna. During the reign of her son Alexander I the palace served as a royal summer palace. The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna lived there until her death in 1828. It was deserted after that. It now serves as a museum. 

10. Petrovsky Palace

Petrovsky Palace is a boutique hotel now. It was built for Catherine the Great in 1776-1780 but only visited the palace once in 1785.

Another royal guest was Napoleon, who was fleeing from a burning Moscow in 1812. 

Via Google Streetview, you can roam around outside and inside the Palace. 

Via Google Streetvieuw you can roam around outside and inside the Palace. 

If you want to spend the night, you can check prices and availability here.

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