The palaces in Russia are architectural masterpieces that stand as testaments to their great and majestic rulers. From Catherine's Palace just outside of the European city of St. Petersburg to Tsar Alexei’s Wooden Palace in the more traditionally-Russian city of Moscow, here are five of the most beautiful palaces near Russia’s two largest cities. Of course, there are many more beautiful palaces that you can visit - it was hard to choose just five!

Don't Miss These 5 Beautiful Russian Palaces

1. Catherine’s Palace, St. Petersburg

It’s hard not to feel light and joyful while looking at Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, a town just 30 kilometers south of St. Petersburg. This robin’s egg blue, white and gold masterpiece served as the chief summer residence of the tsars. Originally built by Peter the Great for his wife Catherine I, the palace started off as a modest, two-story building. It was revamped by their daughter Empress Elizabeth, who went through four different architects before selecting Bartholomeo Rastrelli to complete the redesign. The new building was constructed to rival Versailles, and stands as one of St. Petersburg’s most popular visitor attractions to this day. The palace is open to the public every day of the week except Tuesdays, and the entrance fee is RUB 720 for adults and RUB 360 for Students with ID.

2. Menshikov Palace, St. Petersburg

The Menshikov Palace in St. Petersburg is considered by some to be far superior (in terms of luxury) to the summer palace of Peter the Great. It is an imposing and impressive structure, and the only private building to have survived from the beginning of the 18th century. These days, the palace is part of the State Hermitage and displays some of the museum’s European and Russian art, contemporaneous sculptures and paintings, and a beautifully restored interior. Admission is RUB 300 for adults, but there’s free admission to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month.

3. Winter Palace of the Tsars, St. Petersburg

Perhaps St. Petersburg’s most famous building, the Winter Palace, is a monumental edifice that looms over the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square. It was built to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia, and served as the official residence of the Russian monarchs from 1732 to 1917. It’s a physically daunting building that’s richly decorated with ionic columns and facades, and parapets decorated with statues and vases. The palace is impressive on any given day, but will take your breath away at night. It’s now part of the State Hermitage Museum, and RUB 600 will grant you entrance into the Main Museum Complex.

4. Peterhof Grand Palace, St. Petersburg

The Peterhof Grand Palace in St. Petersburg was part of Peter the Great’s “Russian Versailles.” Once again, Empress Elizabeth added her magic touch to Peter’s initial orders and commissioned Rastrelli to build a genuinely regal palace. You can see Rastrelli’s classic touches in the two white pavilions at the end of the wings. His majestic construction is elegant, refined, and everything you’d want a palace to be. For RUB 550, you can see Rastrelli’s incredible Ceremonial Staircase, the gilded Ballroom and the Western-Chinese Study.

5. Wooden Palace, Moscow

There’s beauty in the unexpected, and this castle along the River Moscow is just that. Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich had the wooden palace built in Kolomenskoye, but the original fell into ruin. Luckily, the Moscow Government built a full-sized replica in 2010, preserving the design’s fanciful, fairy-tale roofs and asymmetrical proportions. It’s a palace out of a fairy tale—something from your wildest imaginations. You can walk the grounds for free, but entrance fees for exhibits inside the Wooden Palace cost between RUB 50-300.

This article was written by Hanna Choi.