In St. Petersberg, Russia, our tours ensured that we see mile after mile of opulent buildings constructed for the pleasure of the Tsars and their royal, privileged relations. We toured Catherine the Great’s summer palace at night after the crowds had dissipated and were welcomed by a band.
The splendor of the outside was matched by the inside.
Catherine Palace was used as a summer palace and the countryside around it was pretty with broad views and big sky; I was once again reminded of the American midwest. Of course, in the midwest the view around the corner is of another cow and maybe a barn. In this countryside, the view was considerably more impressive.
Catherine had an entire room lined with Baltic amber. That room was lost during WWII but we had a chance to see a faithful reproduction.
This palace, like most of St. Petersberg, was built by people whom our guide referred to as “free labor.” They were serfs, of course, and it’s not hard to believe that they would demand some changes to this system. The realization that the revolution which brought down the Tsars brought them a whole other form of oppressive rule is its own tragedy. But that’s a story for another day.