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Historical Museum of Wax Figures

Further west is yet another palace, Marly, inspired by a French hunting lodge. To the east of the Grand Palace, an old Orangery houses the Historical Museum of Wax Figures, containing 49 ho-hum figures of big-wigged Russians from the 18th and 19th centuries. Better is the Triton fountain outside, with its 8m jet of water.

Even on summer weekends, the rambling, overgrown Alexandria Park, built for Tsar Nicholas I (and named for his tsarina), is peaceful and empty. Besides a mock-Gothic chapel, the park’s diversions include the ruined Farmer’s Palace (1831), which vaguely resembles a stone farmstead, and the Cottage (1829), modelled on an English country cottage, which is now a museum.
Just east of the Upper Garden, the renovated old-style Pharmacy, with drawers full of medicinal plants, looks (and smells) like the real thing.

You can sip herbal teas here and, if your Russian’s good enough, ask the staff about your medical problem.
In Petrodvorets town, the eye-catching five-domed SS Peter and Paul Cathedral, across the road and east of the palace grounds, is built in neo-Byzantine style but dates only from the turn of the 20th century. One bus stop west of the main palace entrance is the Raketa watch factory with a little boutique selling very cool watches.

Six kilometres east of Petrodvorets is Strelna, another estate with parklands and two aces built for Peter (later enlarged for Empress Elizabeth by Rastrelli). One of these. Konstantinovsky Palace, was chosen by Vladimir Putin as his summer residence and houses an extremely luxurious hotel.

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