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The Mikhailovsky Castle - the name means St. Michael's Castle - bears silent witness to the story of the short, dramatic reign of Emperor Paul I, son of Catherine the Great. Paul came to the throne aged 42, and deeply disliked by the and the royal guards, so he was constantly afraid of assassins. He ordered a fortified palace, surrounded by deep ditches, to be built for him. Yet Paul did not live in his new palace for long: In 1801 he was assassinated in his own bedroom by a group of officers who organized a coup, inspired by Paul's son Alexander.

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