Built in 1777 under commission of Catherine the Great and featuring the works of architects like Charles Cameron, Jacomo Quarengi and Carlo Rossi, the stately Pavlovsk Palace was a gift from the Empress to her son, the future Emperor Paul I, to mark the birth of her first grandson. A magnificent neoclassical complex set in an idyllic 1,500-acre estate, the palace is surrounded by landscaped parks and woodlands, and served as the summer residence for the Emperor and his wife, Maria Feodorovna, until his untimely death in 1801.
Today, the painstakingly restored palace is open to the public and provides an intimate glimpse into the life of one of Russia’s most enigmatic rulers. Visitors can peek into the chambers of Maria Feodorovna, where her personal items are still on display; explore the state rooms, decorated with an impressive collection of furnishings, fine china and paintings; and admire highlights like the lavish Throne Room, the grand Dining Hall and Paul’s Library, home to a series of tapestries gifted to the couple by Louis XVI.
Pavlovsk Palace is located 30 kilometers south of St. Petersburg city center and can be reached by train from St. Petersburg’s Vitebsk station (a 40-minute ride) or by guided tour, often combined with a visit to nearby Pushkin. The palace is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except for the first Monday of the month, when it’s closed); last admission is at 5 p.m. Adult admission is R450.