Catherine Palace was a small two-story building typical of Russian palaces of the early 18th century. In 1708-1724 Tsarskaya Mysa was the residence of Peter the Great's wife, the Empress Catherine I. From 1741 Tsarskoye Selo became the residence of the Empress Elizabeth and during her reign the architect Rastrelli created a magnificent Emperial Palace, a brilliant masterpiece of Russian baroque. At the same time the Hermitage and Grotto Pavilions were built, regular Upper and Lower Gardens were laid out, and the Lower Garden was decorated with sculptures.
The palace was quite impressive with its size, powerful spatial dynamics and picturesque decoration in the style of the Russian Baroque. The wide, light blue ribbon of the palace with its snow-white columns and gilt ornament looked quite festive. The northern wing was topped by the five golden domes of the Palace Chapel, and the southern wing, which contained the formal, state rooms, was topped off by a golden dome with a star on the spire.
Approximately 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the exterior and interior ornaments. At this time the formal yard was also designed, surrounded by the palace's service buildings placed in a semi-circle around the "circumference" of the yard. The galleries of the palace's facade consisted of windows and columns, each of which bore a wooden, gold-leafed statue or vase.
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