Russia’s tsars were a decadent brood, renowned for flaunting their flamboyant lifestyle. Modern-day Romanovs can rule the country on our upcoming 10-day Resplendent Russia journey, during which the emperors’ opulence is matched by lavish repasts and luxe hotel stays. Here, eight sumptous must-sees:
Imperial Crowns Without the Crowds — Russia’s oldest museum, The Armoury in Moscow was originally built to warehouse the empire’s weaponry. Today it houses one of the world’s top collections of royal treasures, and Travcoa guests are privy to a pre-opening visit so they can ogle its fairytale carriages and Faberge Eggs before the throngs arrive. A private tour of the velvet-carpeted Diamond Fund reveals such baubles as the 190-carat Orlov Diamond topping the Imperial scepter and the Great Imperial Crown, Catherine the Great’s coronation crown encrusted with nearly 5,000 diamonds.
All Those Golden Eggs — Tsar Alexander III commissioned Gustav Faberge to create the first of his famous eggs as an Easter gift for the Empress. The famous Hen Egg is just one of the illustrious clutch on display at St. Petersburg’s Faberge Museum, where a private tour highlights the most important of its 4,000 exhibits.
Enigmatic Russian Icons — The Renaissance never made its way to Russia, leaving the country’s artists in a medieval limbo until the 18th century. Russian icons are unique in their use of reverse perspective, which brings the saint’s image forward to provide a window into the sacred. The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow claims the world’s greatest collection of these holy images; following a tour, Travoca guests can view a reserve collection — as well as hear a private choral concert — in the ornate Church of St. Nicholas.
A Winter Wonderland — with some 3 million items spread across a massive, 57-acre complex, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg has been known to overwhelm even the most ardent art lovers. Luckily, many of its most spectacular pieces are exhibited in the Winter Palace, formerly the Tsars’ official residence, and our Resplendent Russia journey features a rare, pre-opening visit hosted by one of the museum’s curators.
Ain’t Life Grand? — As part of his effort to instill a more Western mindset on Russia, Peter the Great set out to build a magnificent palace to would rival Versailles. The 300-acre Peterhof complex north of St. Petersburg comprises dozens of palaces and elaborate, crowned by the imposing Grand Palace. Travcoa guests enjoy pre-opening access to view its Throne Room, Western Chinese Study, and other lavishly reconstructed rooms.
Amber Waves of Grandeur — Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the jewel-encrusted Amber Room in Catherine Palace was infamously looted by the Russians during World War II. A painstakingly reconstructed view of the room — containing some six tons of amber — can be viewed in all its gold-leaf glory during a visit to the Rococo palace in Pushkin.