Posted by Gil Travel on Aug 16, 2018 11:00:24 AM
We all dream of spending some time in fairy-tale-like castles, to walk below high gilded ceilings and over marble floors, to waltz in gorgeous ballrooms underneath grand chandeliers, or to climb grand staircases towards richly decorated rooms. If you wish to take a glimpse into the lives of the aristocracy and Russia’s rich history, there is no better place than St. Petersburg’s palaces. Many rulers had a place to call home in this city of turquoise, deep red, white, pinkish, and golden-yellow edifices.
Here are some of the most gorgeous St. Petersburg palaces for you to visit while on your next escorted tour.
The Winter Palace is certainly number one on many people’s must-visit list. As a matter of fact, from 1732 to 1917, this monumental edifice, built chiefly in Elizabethan Baroque and restored in Rococo style, was the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Where the tsars once lived, now stands the State Hermitage Museum – the largest art museum in the world that holds many famous fine art pieces, such as works from Da Vinci, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Visitors can walk down the grand staircase, see the restored rooms, and visit the Pavilion Hall with its open gallery, richly decorated ceiling, marble fireplaces and fountains, and the world-famous Peacock Clock.
Built on the Moyka in 1883-1885, this fascinating structure is the Palace of Grand Duke Alexey Alexandrovich, the brother of Tsar Alexander III. It is located close to the shipyards in the poor Kolomna District, since the Grand Duke was passionate about sea life since childhood. The complex includes a guest house, stables, a workshop, greenhouses, and gardens, while the palace rooms are all designed in different styles popular across the world at the time. Today, Alekseevsky Palace is home to the St. Petersburg House of Music, which is a state organization that created an active programme of workshops, educational events, and concerts with the goal of encouraging young classical musicians.
The Marble Palace stands today as one of the most impressive former homes of the Tsars. Built in the 1760s between Millionaya Ulitsa and the Neva River, it was designed by Antonio Rinaldi and is one of the city’s first neoclassical palaces, though it was remodelled in Gothic and Renaissance styles six decades later. The best local and foreign sculptors and craftsman worked with Ronaldi to create the most impressive of exteriors and interiors, using thirty-two different kinds of inlaid marble for ornamentation. In 1992, the palace was granted to the State Russian Museum, becoming home to a permanent collection of modern art, various temporary exhibitions, and an exhibition devoted to the last owner of the palace, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov.
If you are searching for grandiose palaces with majestic interiors combined with a unique art collection, then Mikhailovskiy Palace is the place for you. This two-centuries-old neoclassical wonder was designed with two different facades, while its delightful gardens rest on the banks of the Moika River. The famous architect Carlo Rossi worked with many prominent sculptors to create the awe-inspiring interiors, but unfortunately only the main vestibule of the palace and the White Room remain today. Between 1895 and 1897, the palace interiors became museum halls, and today it is a part of the State Russian Museum, housing a vast and varied collection, from the Byzantine religious icons to many fantastic avant-garde pieces. While there, visit the fascinating Mikhailovsky Castle, also a branch of the Russian Museum.
The construction of Yusupov Palace began in 1770 on the site of an older wooden palace. One of few aristocratic homes that retained most of its original interior, including an incredible number of the original rooms, Yusupov Palace is a testament to the extraordinary wealth of the Yusupovs. Though they owned four palaces in St. Petersburg, this one on the Moika River, close to the Mariinsky Theatre, was their favourite. Today, the palace is a museum where visitors can explore the reception rooms and living quarters. It is also a cultural centre that hosts theatre performances, classical concerts, and other events in its inspiring rococo Palace Theatre and White Column Hall. Yusupov Palace is also famous as the site of the assassination of Grigory Rasputin in 1916, and there is even a display recreating the assassination and the subsequent investigation.
With its entrance guarded by two lion sculptures, Yelagin Palace is situated on Yelagin Island in the Neva River. It served as a summer palace for Empress Maria Fyodrovna. Commissioned in 1818, Carlo Rossi designed the palace and much of its intricate, richly painted interior. Rossi also designed the stables, the kitchen building, and three pavilions in the palace grounds. In 1987, the Palace became home to the Museum of Russian Decorative and Applied Art and Interior Design 18th-20th Centuries. Visitors can explore Rossi’s restored interiors on the ground floor of the building, various exhibitions on the second floor, the precious glassware at the Museum of Glass Art, or enjoy one of many annual events, such as the music festival or the tulip festival.