The furthest of the great out-of-town estates from the city, Gatchina palace was a gift from Catherine the Great to the love of her life, Prince Grigory Orlov.

Orlov never moved in during his lifetime, and following his death Catherine re-gifted the palace to Paul, the ill-fated Tsar who developed the palace and grounds further. It was the setting for an annual hunt for deer, wild boar, and bison, and as late as 1915 a wolf was shot dead in the grounds. Grand Duke Mikhail was the main occupant at the time of the Revolution, and the house briefly became the hiding place of Kerensky before he fled into exile. The usual litany of 20th century misfortunes befell the house - post-Revolutionary sacking and looting, Soviet neglect, Nazi burning - but today the palace looks as it must have done two centuries ago. Every year a major concert is held on the White Lake during the White Nights, starting at midnight and ending just before dawn several hours later. It is a magical way to experience the palace and its grounds.

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