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World's Most Beautiful Buildings

Catherine Palace

Hemis / Alamy

Catherine Palace, Outside St. Petersburg, Russia

Named for Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, this way-way-over-the-top 18th-century palace, with its distinctive blue façade, was built mostly by her spendthrift daughter, Empress Elizabeth. While most visitors come to see the Amber Room, a contemporary reproduction of the lavish chamber that was disassembled and carted away by the Nazis, the airy, classically inspired wing designed by Catherine II’s favorite architect, Charles Cameron, is much lovelier.

Tsarist Fun: Visit in the winter if you want to tour the grounds on a horse-drawn sleigh.

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