Someone asked me if I actually saw the Catherine Palace or just promised to write about it. If you’ve ever seen Disney’s Condor Man (which is a ridiculous spoof on From Russia with Love…but our family all thought it was very funny), then I’d like you to know that, like Woody, I test out everything before writing about it in the comics (or this blog, whichever comes first).Yes, we really did go on a marvelous cruise of Northern Europe in the springtime and although this one picture (showing the magnitude of the palace complex) was taken by “Royal Russia,” all the rest of these pictures were taken by yours truly and my trusty husband of 41+ years, who has endured and enjoyed world travels and cultural experiences with me! The Catherine Palace was originally commissioned by Catherine I in 1717 as the summer residence of the Russian tsars. Through the years, it changed in style and grew in magnitude and opulence, but in January of 1944, the palace was totally destroyed by the German army as they left after the bloody 872-day siege of Leningrad during World War 2. Today, much of the Catherine’s Palace has been restored to its former Rococo grandeur, but in order to raise funds for completing their renovations, the Catherine Palace now rents out its dazzling “Great Hall” for special events, & we enjoyed being beneficiaries of one of their magical evenings of entertainment! Alan and I were part of a group who arrived at the front gates early enough to tour the palace before the concert, but even then we were welcomed with music!It is said that more than 100 kilograms of gold have been used to guild the glorious rooftop and intricate stucco facade of the Catherine Palace, but I think the complete value of this treasure house is beyond estimation.For example, the walls in every room are enhanced with gold-guilding, and artfully adorned with exquisite furniture and statuary. Stunning curtains line the windows.The floors are crafted with intricate parquet inlays; the ceilings are graced with ethereal scenes from the world’s great artists;and each room has a gigantic, blue and white porcelain heat radiator. The Portrait Hall covers 100 sq. meters and is filled with superb oil paintings. In the Light Gallery (and on the evening we were there) over 696 lamps are lit near the mirrored walls and windows and hanging from the chandeliers, giving the room a magnificent, golden glow. (Does this look like Lumière from Beauty and the Beast, or what??!) Well, besides touring the palace and the Royal Carriage House, we were treated to an evening of classical music and a royal reception (not really at this table) to try some of Russia’s famous champagne (which I opted out of) and caviar (which was exotic but excellent). The evening ended with a stroll through the perfectly manicured palace gardens while enjoying even more musical entertainment! I couldn’t help but be impressed with all the music, and I believe it’s really true that Russians (and probably all of us) love beauty, music and dancing. It’s hard to even imagine the beauty and joy that awaits us in heaven!
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)