Are you bored of the Catherine Palace’s endless queues? I understood that feeling. I waited in line for 3 hours to get into the Hermitage, and 5 hours for the Catherine Palace. My legs burned like never before. Fortunately, there are three St.Petersburg palaces that you can visit without waiting in a line. You could add these palaces as extra destinations when you traveled to the city.
1. Yusupov Palace
Yusupov Palace or Yusupov Palace of the Moika (
Дворец Юсуповых на Мойке) was a residence of the Yusupov family, one of the most affluent families of Imperial Russia. The palace occupied the area next to the Moika River.
The palace was a symbol of Russian elites’ immense wealth and luxury in the imperial era. It was intricately decorated by many famous architects. When I saw the rooms in the palace, I thought that they were very similar to those in the Hermitage. As an avid history-reader, it was so true to me that these nobilities “lived like Tsars.”
Furthermore, if you are interested in Russian history, this palace was a must. Yusupov Palace was where the conspirators killed Rasputin. There is a special exhibition about the killing of Rasputin. You would get a chance to see the underground room that Prince Felix Yusupov, one of the conspirators attempted to kill Rasputin with poisoned cakes and Madeira wines. However, he failed to do so. The conspirators finally killed him by shooting him point-blank.
I visited the palace in August 2018. The queue at that time was relatively short (20-30 minutes.) The entry fee to the palace is 450 rubles, but this does not include the Rasputin exhibition and the audio guide. For more information, https://www.yusupov-palace.ru/en/palace
2. Marble Palace
Within a short walk from the Hermitage, you could see the Marble Palace
(Мраморный дворец.) Catherine the Great gave this palace to her lover, Count Grigory Orlov in the 1760s. Antonio Rinaldi, a famous architect was the designer of the palace. Subsequently, the imperial family took the palace back. It became the residence of Grand Duke Constantine and his family members. Currently, the palace was under the administration of the Russian State Museum.
The Marble Palace is famous for its various polychrome marbles. These marbles are of various colors. Many of them came from different places such as Karelia, Finland, or the Urals. In total, There are up to 32 shades of marbles that were used to decorate the palace. From my point of view, the Marble Palace is very beautiful.
In addition, in front of the Marble Palace, there is a large statue of Emperor Alexander III sitting on his horse. Fortunately, the statue survived the revolution intact.
When I visited the palace, there was no queue at all. You could freely enter the palace. The ticket price is 400 rubles, but you can use the same ticket to enter the Marble Palace, the Stroganov Palace, and St Michael’s Castle.
3. Gatchina Palace
Gatchina Palace (Большой Гатчинский дворец) is one of my favorite Russian palaces. It is a classical palace with distinct characteristics. I really like its semi-circle shape and its light brown color.
The palace has a long history. Most importantly, it was the place the imperial family of Alexander III called home. The Emperor chose to live in Gatchina, because it was far from St. Petersburg, so his family and himself could be safe from the revolutionaries. One of those who lived here was his first son who later became the last emperor of Russia, Nicholas II.
At this palace, you could see how the imperial family really lived. You would have a chance to see the personal rooms and properties of the emperor, the empress, their sons, and daughters. Surprisingly, these rooms are not large or richly decorated. The ceilings of the rooms are low! Please Beware!
It’s worth knowing that most of the structures at Gatchina have just been constructed as the Germans set fire to them in WWII. However, many of the properties survived because Soviet authorities moved them to safety beforehand. Currently, the Russian government attempts to restore the palace to its former glory, but this would take decades to complete.
When I walked through these rooms, I could see many photos of the imperial family who lived here. I seemed to be quite touched or impressed by them. Overall, I really appreciate the experience at this palace.
The palace also has its private park and lake. If you go to Gatchina in Summer, make sure you spend some time walking around. Russian people really admire this park as well. You could see many of them resting in the park.
Gatchina Palace is located 48km south of St. Petersburg. You can go there by Taxi or minibus. I chose Taxi because it was more convenient for me, and my Russian was not good enough. When I visited the palace, there were no queues. The entire process of entering the palace took less than 3 minutes.
Another way to avoid queues is getting a tour guide, please choose