The Alexander Palace was designed by Quarenghi under the orders of Catherine the Great. Although Catherine chose to live in the grander Catherine palace down the road, this palace also saw its fair share of Tsar residents. The last Tsar of Russia Nicholas II and his family left the most lasting impressions upon the building and their tragic history is closely tied with the palace. On a tour of the restored rooms of the palace, it’s the rooms designed by the last Tsar and his family that stand out. The play room of Tsarevich Alexei is stuffed with toys whilst his bedroom was covered in icons by his superstitious mother. The most outstanding room of the modest palace is the art nouveau styled Maple room, a somewhat more middle class salon than you would expect from a Russian Tsar, it’s an elegant example of fin de siècle tastes, although sadly a lot of the furniture and furnishings are not original. The palace also has an excellent exhibition of old imperial uniforms and dresses worn by the Tsar’s famously beautiful daughters. The palace also has a huge park that is a favorite picnic spot for locals in the summer. Look out for the odd neglected tank and disused anti-aircraft guns dotted through the park.