Catherine Palace is the summer residence of Catherine the Great (the Hermitage was her winter palace). The Russian Empire had expanded and was more powerful under Catherine than it was under Peter the Great. Catherine's Palace reflects the increase in wealth. Catherine Palace is in a small town called Pushkin, just under an hour train ride from St. Petersburg. The town is also home to Alexander Palace (which was closed for renovations when I visited) and Pavlovskiy Dvorets, another "smaller" palace. I purchased my Catherine Palace ticket online expecting there to be crowds. There weren't. From what I read, Catherine's Palace is only open to solo traveling foreigners between 2 and 4.
Catherine Palace from the front court.
The photo doesn't capture the scale.
Neither does this photo. It's an unbelievably long (wide?) building.
Back of Catherine Palace.
Catherine Palace grounds which I believe are free to enter.
The blue / white ceramic thing is a furnace to keep the room warm.
More interior shots.