The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Winter Palace (home of the Hermitage museum) on the Neva River, with the Admiralty on the right and the gold dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral in the right background, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Winter Palace (home of the Hermitage museum) on the Neva River, with the Admiralty on the right and the gold dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the right background, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

“From the 1760s onwards the Winter Palace [Russian : Зи́мний дворе́ц] was the main residence of the Russian Tsars [to 1917].  Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this Baroque-style palace is perhaps St. Petersburg’s most impressive attraction.  Many visitors also know it as the main building of the Hermitage Museum.  The green-and-white three-story palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and boasts 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 1,057 elegantly and lavishly decorated halls and rooms, many of which are open to the public.” – saint-petersburg.com

 

The “Jordan Staircase”, so-called because on the Feast of the Epiphany the Tsar descended it in state for the ceremony of the "Blessing of the Waters"; it retains Rastrelli's 18th century rococo style; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The “Jordan Staircase”, so-called because on the Feast of the Epiphany the Tsar descended it in state for the ceremony of the “Blessing of the Waters”; it retains Rastrelli’s 18th century rococo style; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

“Empress Anna Ioannovna was the first of Peter’s descendants to reconstruct the [predecessor residences on the site – the first Imperial residence on the site of the Winter Palace was a wooden house in the Dutch style built in 1708 for Peter the Great and his family that was replaced in 1711 by a stone building].   In 1731, she commissioned Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the recently appointed court architect who would go on to become the recognized master of late baroque in Russia, to create a new, larger palace on the site.  Completed in 1735, the third Winter Palace served for only 17 years before Rastrelli was again asked, this time by Empress Elizabeth (Elizaveta Petrovna), to expand the building.  After two years proposing different plans to adapt the existing building, Rastrelli eventually decided to completely rebuild the palace, and his new design was confirmed by the empress in 1754.” – saint-petersburg.com

 

Exterior windows on the Admiralty side of the palace reflected in a window atop the Jordan Staircase, The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

Exterior windows on the Admiralty side of the palace reflected in a window atop the Jordan Staircase, The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

“When Catherine the Great came to the throne in 1762, the new palace was nearly complete and, although Catherine removed Rastrelli from the project, his designs for the exterior of the building have remained almost completely unaltered to this day.  The building forms a square with an interior courtyard accessed via three archways facing Palace Square.  The richly decorated facades feature two levels of richly decorated ionic columns, and the parapets of the building are decorated with statues and vases.  (The original stone decorations were replaced with lighter metal substitutes 1892-1902.)  The palace is 22m (72 feet) high, and local planning regulations have prevented any building in the city centre rising higher than this ever since.  Within the Winter Palace, continual improvements and revisions were made to the interiors throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.  In the 1780s and 1790s, Giacomo Quarenghi and Ivan Starov created a new enfilade of state rooms overlooking the Neva River.” – saint-petersburg.com

 

The Small Throne Room was created by Auguste de Montferrand in 1833; it has columns of jasper; diplomats gathered here on New Year's Day to offer good wishes to the Emperor; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Small Throne Room was created by Auguste de Montferrand in 1833; it has columns of jasper; diplomats gathered here on New Year’s Day to offer good wishes to the Emperor; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

“In December 1837, fire broke out in the Winter Palace, destroying nearly all the palace interiors and only being prevented from spreading to the priceless art collections in the Hermitage with the prior destruction of three passages leading between the two buildings.  Nicholas ordered that reconstruction of the palace be completed within one year, a monumental effort considering the construction technologies of the day.  The lavish interiors were recreated under the supervision of Vasily Stasov, while his fellow architect Alexander Briullov added new designs in more contemporary styles.  Alexander II was the last of the Tsars to genuinely use the Winter Palace as his main residence.  After his assassination in 1881, it became clear that the palace was too large to be properly secured (the first attempt on his life the year before had been a bomb that damaged several rooms in the palace and killed 11 guards).  Alexander III and Nicholas II both set up their family residences at suburban palaces.” – saint-petersburg.com

 

The Armorial Hall of The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Armorial Hall of The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

“The Winter Palace was declared part of the State Hermitage Museum on 17 October 1917.  Although initial Bolshevik policy was to remove all Imperial symbols from the palace and use the premises as a museum of the Revolution, the restoration project of the 1940s and 1950s, which followed further extensive damage to the building during the Siege of Leningrad, saw the beginning of an ongoing process to return the Imperial splendor of many of the palace’s rooms.  The State Rooms of the Winter Palace now form one of the most popular sections of the Hermitage, and are essential viewing for all visitors to St. Petersburg.” – saint-petersburg.com

 

One of the Romanov and Tsars’ portrait “halls” in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

One of the Romanov and Tsars’ portrait “halls” in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

A typical ceiling showing the high level of decorations in the palace rooms, The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

A typical ceiling showing the high level of decorations in the palace rooms, The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

An elaborate parquet wooden floor in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia; interesting, in the past few years they have removed protective carpeting as  it generated too much dust that affected the objects; now they refinish the floors as needed

An elaborate parquet wooden floor in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia; interesting, in the past few years they have removed protective carpeting as it generated too much dust that affected the objects; now they refinish the floors as needed

 

The Peacock Clock is large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds, acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781; it is prominently displayed in the Hermitage Museum in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The Peacock Clock is large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds, acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781; it is prominently displayed in the Hermitage Museum in The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

An elaborate ceiling in the exhibit hall housing the Peacock Clock in the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

An elaborate ceiling in the exhibit hall housing the Peacock Clock in the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

The ceiling paintings are on canvas stretched onto the ceiling openings; the plaster is paper mache to minimize the weight of the buildings on the pilings in what was originally marshes of the Neva River; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

The ceiling paintings are on canvas stretched onto the ceiling openings; the plaster is paper mache to minimize the weight of the buildings on the pilings in what was originally marshes of the Neva River; The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

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