Tsarskoe Selo (also known as Pushkin, after the “Russian Shakespeare” who was schooled at the neighbouring Lyceum school), 17km southeast of St Petersburg, centres on the Catherine Palace (palace 10am–6pm, closed Tues & last Mon of the month; R550, student R280; park daily 9am–7pm, R200, student R100). The ostentatious blue-and-white Baroque structure built by Catherine the Great is surrounded by a richly landscaped park. Scottish architect Charles Cameron’s elegant Neoclassical Gallery stretches high above it. To get to Pushkin, take minibus #299 (R30) from Moskovskaya behind the Lenin monument or #286 from Kupchino; alternatively, take a train to Detskoe selo from Vitebsky station.

The same minibuses take you to the more intimate Pavlovsk Palace (10am–6pm, closed Fri & first Mon of the month; palace R500, student R300, park R150, student R80), its magnificent Neoclassical interior set amid luxurious 1500-acre grounds.

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