There are many monuments to architecture in Russia but we thought to take a look at some of the most beautiful and impressive palaces in all of Russia.
The Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was the official residence of the Romanovs from 1732 to 1917. It also houses the world-famous Hermitage Museum, the second-largest museum in the world. It was built to reflect the might and power of the Russian Empire and was designed by multiple architects in the Elizabethan Baroque style. It has 1,500 rooms, 1,886 doors, 1,945 windows, and 117 staircases. It’s halls alone house 176 sculptures.
The white and turquoise exterior gives the impression of an icy glacier holding its place above the city threatening with its might, a symbol of imperial power. It’s no wonder that the storming of the Winter Palace became such an iconic part of Bolshevik propaganda! The palace is an opulent thing that one must see to believe.
The Grand Peterhof Palace
When it was originally founded in 1709, the estate barely resembled a palace. Then in 1717, Peter the Great visited the Palace of Versailles in France and decided that Peterhof would be a palace on such a scale that it would rival Versailles. It is now the most lavish and popular of the Romanov summer residences. Nicholas II spent much of his time here. The main architect was Dominico Trezzini. He employed a style that would become the foundation for the Petrine Baroque style commonly used throughout Saint Petersburg. Today the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Grand Palace within is now a museum for visitors. Tourists can also visit the grounds.
The Catherine Palace
Just south of St. Petersburg, this palace was one of the summer residences of the Romanovs. The exterior of this palace is a masterpiece of the late Baroque/Rococo style and has been used as backdrops for series such as the BBC’s War and Peace. While the exterior is a well-known Rococo example, it also boasts some of the most superb Neoclassical interiors.
The Catherine Palace is best known for the Bartolomeo Rastrelli designed grand suite of formal rooms named the Golden Enfilade. If one were to take a tour through its grandeur it would start at the ballroom, named the ‘Grand Hall’ also known by the more poetic name the ‘Hall of Lights.’ This ballroom features a fantastic painted ceiling depicting Helios and Eos from Greek myth. Following the ballroom, we have numerous other rooms of grand splendour from the Courtiers-in-attendance Dining Room, the White Formal Dining Room, and the Portrait Hall. The latter features large formal portraits of Empress Catherine I and Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. The Amber Room is truly unique and a must-see as its wall panels and decorations are made from amber!
The Tsaritsyno Palace
Much like the Peterhof Palace, the Tsaritsyno Palace originally was an unimpressive estate near Moscow. That was until Catherine the Great passed through the area and fell absolutely in love with the picturesque beauty of the land.
Vasili Bazhenov was the architect who built the palace the for the Empress during 1776-1785. However, Bazhenov’s design did not please Catherine at all. She is reported to have said that the rooms were too dark and cramped, making the palace practically unliveable. She had a flair for the dramatic, Catherine did. She then ordered the palace ripped down and brought in a new architect, Matvey Kazakov, whose Neo-Gothic plans pleased the Empress.
Construction continued steadily until Catherine’s death in 1796. Her successor, Paul I, didn’t care at all about the palace so it went unfinished for over 200 years, not being finished until 2005-07! Today it’s a history and architecture museum.
The Wooden Palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich
This palace is by far one of the most unique on this list. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich built this palace near Moscow in 1667 without using any fastening materials like nails or hooks. The whole complex consists of 26 buildings connected by passages and halls. It’s such a striking palace that looks straight out of a fairy tale.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the original palace as it fell into disrepair after Alexei’s death. The troubles of working with only timber, I guess. Catherine the Great ripped it down and the usable materials moved to the Tsaritsyno Palace that she was building. However, in the 1990’s, reconstruction began. With little to none of the original palace left, the reconstruction was based largely on archaeological and historical research. The palace stands today as a museum that showcases the everyday life of the Romanov’s.
The Konstantin Palace
The Konstantin Palace was completed in 1807 and it barely lasted a century before falling into decay after 1917. It became a child labour commune at one point and then a secondary school. But it was during WWII that saw the palace torn apart leaving only the walls behind. Every bit of decoration gone. And there is stood until Vladimir Putin in 2001 ordered the palace to be restored and turned into a presidential residence. Today, the Konstantin Palace is the business and cultural centre of St. Petersburg. Events like the G20 summit have been hosted here. Today, the palace is open to all comers and is considered an important and must-see sight in St. Petersburg.