Walking In the Footsteps of Catherine the Great

December 19, 2019

Have you ever fantasized of trying on the role of a queen? Imagine strolling along the halls of the beautiful palaces featured in HBO’s “Catherine the Great.” You can do all of that in St. Petersburg, and we’ll tell you how below!
(Photo attribution at the bottom)


Catherine the Great, one of the most beautiful historical dramas was recently released on HBO. Helen Mirren, playing the empress Catherine the Great of Russia takes you on a trip to the 1760s and shows you the most turbulent, yet most highly regarded times in Russian history.

Helen Mirren at the center of the ball party room at the Catherine's Palace
Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great in the Ball Party room in Catherine’s Palace

The creators of the series succeeded in not only representing the original historical events and portraying the real characters of the past, but they also managed to recreate an authentic atmosphere of imperial St.Petersburg, with its luxurious palaces, fabulous interiors, and magnificent scenery.

Where was “Catherine the Great” filmed?

Did you know that this show was filmed in the actual palaces that served as residences for the Russian Royal family? After watching Catherine The Great, we decided to write a guide on the historical interiors and spaces that served as filming locations for the HBO series.

So check out our Top St.Petersburg palaces and venues of the series that you can easily visit for yourself – even if you only have 2 days in in port on your cruise to St. Petersburg!

We will of course, start with: #1 The Catherine Palace

The most impressive hall of the Catherine’s Palace shown in the series is the Grand Ballroom. Decorated with hundreds of mirrors and thousands of golden chandeliers, this hall is proud to have the title of the largest royal ball party room in Russia. This room was very often used Catherine’s famous Gender Switching parties, where men wore women’s dresses, and vice versa. This type of ball party is actually depicted in the first episode of the series.

Catherine’s Gender Switching Ball Party

Catherine’s Palace was frequently used for official ceremonies, meetings with foreign ambassadors, and politicians. That is why the palace was built to be grandiose, gorgeous, and was designed to impress the guests with its lavish decorations and abundance of gold. Besides the gigantic Ball Party room described above, this palace is also famous for its“Golden Infinity Galleries”, which made this palace look endless.

Catherine the Great walking through the Golden Gallery of the Catherine's Palace
Gorgeous Golden Gallery of the Catherine’s Palace

Catherine’s Palace Park also appears multiple times in the series. You can see Catherine the Great walking in the Palace park, as well as meeting with ambassadors inside the Cameron’s Gallery. This gallery, basically, is a huge two-story pavilion, was especially built for Catherine’s morning strolls. During such strolls Catherine would usually do some reflecting  and writing in solitude while drinking coffee.

Catherine's Palace Park
Catherine the Great and her lover Potemkin at the Cameron’s Gallery in the Palace Park

For more information on the history of Catherine Palace, this site is an excellent resource: http://www.saint-petersburg.com/pushkin/catherine-palace/ .


#2 Peterhoff Palace and Park

Peterhoff Palace is located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. The location was chosen by Peter the Great (founder of St. Petersburg) because of its natural beauty, as well as proximity to St. Petersburg. Today, from the center of St. Petersburg, it will take you only 45 minutes to get to the palace by hydrofoil! Peterhoff Palace was built as a Summer residence of the Royal family, soit’s no wonder that the interiors are opulent and filled with exquisite furniture and golden details.  Peterhoff Palace was built on top of a hill overlooking an expansive park with fountains, small palaces, ponds, and hundreds of statues.

Peterhoff Palace interior
The Painting Guest room of the Peterhoff Palace

Millions of tourists are drawn to this area every year. They come from all around the world, to see not only the palace, but also the amazing system of natural fountains within the park. The most notable of which is The Grand Cascade, laying at the base of the palace, which is the largest natural fountain in the World. The Grand Cascade fountain may be seen behind count Potemkin in the first episode of the series (see photo).

Peterhoff Grand Palace and Fountain Cascade
Peterhoff Park is the most beautiful park in the whole Country

A custom private tour is a great way to walk in the very rooms that Catherine the Great walked through almost 250 years ago.

#3 The Yusupov Palace

This palace used to belong to the richest family in Russia, the Yusupovs. The grand dukes were so rich that they had their own private theater. And, by the way, The Yusupovs were also relatives of the Royal family and they frequently had emperors as their main guests. The opera scene of the series was filmed inside their private family theater.

Private theater inside the Yusupov Palace
Private theater inside the Yusupov Palace

Just like you we were completely fascinated with this show, its costumes, and decorations. So we decided to offer a tour that would cover all of the sights of the movie (and more!), and have you wear a dress from the 18th century while strolling in Peterhoff Park. Contact us today, and we will be delighted to build a custom tour for you! 

Our Customized Private 2-Day and 3-Day Tours will take you to the best of St. Petersburg’ Imperial palaces and Orthodox churches. Don’t miss out, Experience the Imperial Capital with us!

Attribution: All images above are from HBO’s “Catherine the Great” miniseries , unless stated otherwise. Source: Catherine The Great, 2019, written by Williams N., directed by Martin P. for HBO Miniseries.