We visited in late July on a private tour while on a Baltic Cruise (Oceania). Our tour guide Valery from SPB Tours was excellent and maneuvered the crowds well. The history is evidenced here for sure. The Palace was built as a summer retreat for Catherine and 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof. In front of the palace is a great formal garden. The interior rooms (especially the amber room), furnishings and gold inlays are way over the top with extravagance. It makes one wander how the aristocracy could live this way when ordinary people starved from lack of food.
We enjoyed our visit but found the crowds overwhelming, especially when the fountains were started around 11 am (see photos). Worth seeing if you know that there will be so many people, but it can get a bit tight in the grounds of the Gardens. It is a once in a life time experience to see this magnificent architecture and opulence!More