Situated just south of St Petersburg, the Russian imperial residence of Tsarskoye Selo is w more than three hundred years old. Tsarskoye Selo the Tsars Village was once a modest estate housing a summer residence for Catherine I, second wife of Peter the Great. The building w kwn as the Catherine Palace was extensively rebuilt by Empress Elizabeth and then lavishly refurbished by Catherine II, kwn as Catherine the Great. This empresss love of art and decoration is evident in the sumptuous interiors and in the extensive park, filled with fanciful pavilions, bridges and monuments. Catherine also commissioned the neoclassical Alexander Palace for her favourite grandson, the future Alexander I; this later became home to the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family until their exile to Siberia. Occupied by the Nazi forces in 1941, Tsarskoye Selo saw its treasures plundered and many of its interiors left derelict. Fortunately, some of its magnificent interiors survived the vicissitudes of history, while others, such as the extravagant Amber Room, have since been painstakingly restored to their former opulence. The estate is t only a piece of art history but a living testimony to the tastes and private passions of the Romav family. Their clothes and porcelain, their desks and bookshelves build an intimate and involving portrait of life in imperial Russia.