Saturday, February 23, 2013

So it’s official: I want to be a Russian Tsar

In general, life for Russians throughout history has been pretty tough. They’ve had to deal with communism, excessively cold winters, starvation, and war. However, it’s very difficult to comprehend the historical presence of suffering in Russia when you see the grandeur that St. Petersburg has to offer. I thought I had seen the grand opulence of the tsar’s living quarters just by visiting the beautiful blue winter palace in downtown St. Pete. Even though the winter palace is one of the most architecturally beautiful wonders I have ever seen, it just doesn’t compare to marvel I explored this past weekend: Empress Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace: Tsarskoe Selo.  

I have got to admit that Tsarskoe Selo has thus far been the highlight of my adventure in Russia. Two of my friends and I had to travel to the suburbs of St. Pete in order to see this magnificent tsarist palace, and we were not disappointed. If you think the exterior of this building is beautiful, just wait until you see pictures of the inside.

I swear I have never seen more gold in my entire life; all the rooms were covered in gold leaf. I’m very sure that only one door in that palace is easily worth more than my entire house. The room that truly blew me away was the Amber Room. This room was completely (ceilings and walls) covered with amber stone and gold. Actually more than 6 tons of amber was used to create this amazing room. I’m still in shock that people actually lived in this house and walked through this room every day!

So after spending several hours at Tsarskoe Selo, we decided to venture over to two other palaces in the area. Yes, the Tsars built a total of three palaces (all within 15 minutes of each other) outside of the city of St. Petersburg. These other two palaces, Alexander Palace and Pavlovsk Palace, were in general unbelievably impressive. The rooms were gorgeous, and the architecture was spectacular. However, Tsarskoe Selo ruined me forever. On any other day, Alexander Palace and Pavlovsk would have stolen my breath away. But compared to the scope and grandeur of Tsarskoe Selo, I remember only saying “Well these are nice.” I know this seems may seem petty, but Tsarskoe Selo was just that magnificent. So long story short, the tsars lived like gods. I’m betting that the most difficult aspect of their lives involved getting lost in their own homes. 

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