Grand Ducal Petersburg

This route will guide you through the most significant palaces of Saint Petersburg which were owned by members of royal family

Life of grand dukes and princesses of imperial blood always remained in the shadow of crowned persons, however their role in the history of the capital and the country isn't less interesting, than imperial. Palaces will be told, what people were and what grand dukes and princesses, behind whose walls some intrigued, kept secrets, organized magnificent balls and conducted home-style cozy life, are memorized for

  • palaces 4
4 km, 733 m
Mariinsky Palace

Mariinsky Palace

St. Petersburg, Isaakiyevskaya ploshad, 6

This architectural masterpiece was named after the daughter of Nicholas I, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna

The construction of the palace was completed in 1844, and the palace was open for public visits for one day, which became a bright and unusual event of its time.

After the death of Maria Nikolaevna in 1876, her sons inherited the building. The heirs were forced to sell the palace to settle debts, and as late as in 1884, Alexander III signed a decree by which the Mariinsky Palace was declared as the State Council’s residence.

In February 1917, the palace was occupied by the Provisional Government, then by the Pre-Parliament (an advisory body created by the Mensheviks). The Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg has been operating in the Mariinsky Palace since December 14, 1994.

According to an urban legend, Maria Nikolaevna refused to live in the especially built for her palace, as she was unhappy with the location of the monument to Nicholas I in the centre of St. Isaac's Square. The monument was erected with its back to the main entrance of the Mariinsky Palace, and Maria Nikolaevna supposedly saw this as a sign that Father turned his back on her.

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Marble Palace

Marble Palace

St. Petersburg, Millionnaya ul., 5/1

The palace is a prime example of early classicism architecture

The palace was designed by architect Antonio Rinaldi, whose portrait can be found on a marble bas-relief installed on a sidewall of the main staircase at the palace’s entrance. The portrait’s existence resulted from the request by the original owner of the palace, Count Orlov, who wanted to express his admiration for the talent of the architect. In the middle of the XIX century, the palace was rebuilt according to the project of architect Alexander Bryullov.

The three-storey stone building stands out in the panoramic view of the Palace Embankment with its massiveness and magnificence. The strict beauty of its architectural style is emphasised by the diverse texture and colourfulness of natural stone used in the decoration of its façades and interiors. Pilasters and columns evenly alternate with windows, and thanks to the selection of different types of stone, the whole composition is filled with calm grace.

Different varieties of marble were used during the construction of the palace, mainly from domestic deposits discovered in the 1760s along the shores of Ladoga and Onega lakes. Pink Tivdian marble is used to decorate the clock tower, attic and pilasters, uniting the two upper floors of the building. The window frames are made of grey Ruskeala marble, and the decorative wreaths between the windows of the second and third floors are made of white Ural marble. The plinth part of the building, made of Vyborg pink rapakivi granite, has a beautiful rough texture thanks to special surface treatment.

In front of the eastern façade, there’s a monument to Alexander III by P. P. Trubetskoy, which was mounted on Vosstaniya Square in 1909-1937. To the east of the building there is a monument to A.V. Suvorov by M. I. Kozlovsky on Suvorovskaya Ploshchad'.

A new stage in the life of Marble Palace began in 1992, when it was transferred to the State Russian Museum. Since then, systematic examination and scientific restoration of the unique monument have been carried out.

2 km, 426 m
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Anichkov Palace

Anichkov Palace

St. Petersburg, Nevsky pr., 39 A

Anichkov Palace is a former imperial palace at the intersection of Nevsky prospekt and the Fontanka River. The oldest building on Nevsky Prospekt that survived until today, it took its name from the nearby Anichkov Bridge

The construction of the Palace commenced in 1741, under the orders of the Empress Elizabeth I who just started reign the state after the latest palace coup. The project of the various-story building, the form of which was similar to letter ‘H’ (‘N’ in Cyrillic alphabet) was developed by one of the most renowned architects in the Russian capital Mikhail Zemtsov. The building works were finished in baroque style upon the guidance of Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Back then, Fontanka used to be the outskirts of the city, Nevsky Prospekt was a branch trial. So, it was necessary to erect a mesmerizing construction that could adorn the entrance to the capital. There was a special channel with a small pond at the entrance to the palace dug out near Fontanka. That accounts for the unique location of the palace which is situated sideways to Nevsky Prospect. The palace with its beautiful garden, fountains and flowerbeds which resembled the Palace in Peterhof, was presented by the Empress Elizabeth I to her favorite (and likely spouse), Aleksey Razumovsky. Thereafter, the palace used to be a nice wedding present for aristocrats. After the Empress Catherine II’s enthronement, the palace reverted to the crown – the Empress bought the Anichkov Palace from Alexey’s brother Kirill and later donated the palace to her closest favorite Prince Grigory Potemkin. Another part of her present was 100 thousand roubles for fitting out the palace ‘to his own taste’. As a result, the palace undergone reconstruction in 1776-1778 supervised by the architect Starov and turned into a great example of the classical architecture in a strict sense. The building was renewed and considerably altered: for instance, various-story structure as well as stucco decorations were eliminated, and the pond was covered up with sand.

At the end of the XVIII century the palace was restored to the crown and adapted to accommodate Her Imperial Majesty's Cabinet. Later, though, the Imperial Cabinet occupied the new building which was erected on Fontanka Embankment along Nevsky Prospect by Quarenghi. Quarenghi’s construction obstructed the overview of the palace from Anichkov Bridge.

Alexander I bestowed the palace on his sister, Grand Duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna of Russia and her groom Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin as a wedding present. The future Russian Emperor Nicholas I moved into the palace in 1817. At that time, Carlo Rossi supervised architectural re-planning and reconstruction of the interiors of the palace. He also instilled the palace and its garden into a grand architectural ensemble on Alexandrinsky Square (now known as Ostrovskogo Square). After Nicholas I ascended the throne, he often stayed at Anichkov Palace. It was also a place where royal balls and banquets were held. In 1837, at the year when the Winter Palace was being reconstructed after the fire, august family was living in the Anichkov Palace for a while. After the Emperor’s death in 1855, the palace was renamed ‘Nikolaevsky’ but locals kept on calling it ‘Anichkov’. The palace was home for the future Emperor Alexander II, the son of Nicholas I who was educated and brought up by the Russian poet Zhukovsky, Pushkin’s friend. Speaking of, Zhukovsky had his own flat in the palace. He also taught Russian to the Empress Aleksandra Fyodorovna. On October 23, 1836 the poet Alexander Pushkin was invited to Imperial audience, where Nicholas I insisted on his refraining from duel.

In 1841 Nicholas I bestowed the palace to his son Alexander for his wedding, quarter-century later the palace was granted by Alexander II to his son Alexander III. Being afraid of terror attacks to the Winter Palace, Alexander III preferred to stay at the Anichkov Palace and made it his official residence. At that time a blank wall was constructed from the side of the square.

Following the October revolution, the Bolshevik government nationalized the Anichkov palace and designated it the Saint Petersburg City Museum. Since 1925 the palace was closed. In 1934 it was decided to establish "The Palace of Pioneers" there, and after the reconstruction on February 12th, 1937 it was opened. During the Great Patriotic War there was a surgical hospital at the palace. It functioned the first winter during the Siege of Leningrad and housed a lot of wounded people. In the spring 1942 the hospital was moved out of the palace, and ‘The Palace of Pioneers’ welcomed pioneers of Leningrad again.

1 km, 768 m
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Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

Saint Petersburg, Nevsky pr., 41

The Palace of Beloselskyh-Belozerskyh is a luxury and well-known palace located on Nevsky prospekt at its intersection with Fontanka River

Among the numerous architectural monuments that are located on Nevsky prospekt, one of the most notable is the palace of the Dukes Belosyskie-Belozerskie. It was built in 1848 by the famous architect of the Nicholas I era - A.I. Stakenschneider. The design of the building was presented to the emperor and he approved it. The built palace delighted the contemporaries. It was called «majestic palazzo» and «perfection in its own kind», and it was also written that Starkenschneider «made a true artistic feat». The Palace of the Dukes Belosyskie-Belozerskie became the last private palace built on Nevsky prospekt in the 19th century.

The first owners of the palace were representatives of the oldest princely clan, leading from Vladimir Monomah - Belosyskie-Belozerskie. Many of them were military personnel, diplomats and held important positions at the royal court. The gala events, arranged by the princes in their own palace in Nevsky, were famous for their scope and luxury. By their magnificence, they were compared to the imperial receptions at Winter Palace. The princes Belosyskie-Belozerskie were fond of music, theatre, literature, and collected art collections (paintings, porcelain, silver), which decorated the halls of the palace.

At the end of the 19th century, the palace was acquired by the son of Emperor Alexander II, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, on the occasion of his marriage to Princess Ella of Hesse (Grand Duchess Elisabeth Fedorovna). In 1911, the owner of the palace, Elizabeth Fedorovna, gave the palace to her nephew, Grand Duke Dmitriy Pavlovich (later known as the one implicated in the murder of Grigory Rasputin).

After the October Revolution of 1917 the building was nationalized. During the Soviet period, various public organizations were housed here, and the main tenant was the Communist Party of Kuibyshevsky District. During the blockade, the building was damaged by bombardment and shelling. After the war restoration work was carried out in the palace.

In 1992 St. Petersburg Cultural Centre was located in the palace. Since January 2003, the building has been transferred under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President of Russian Federation. Great attention is now paid to its technical status. Surveys and restoration work are carried out.

The original interior of the palace is preserved, among which the ceremonial halls on the 2nd floor stand out: the Oak Hall (the former library), which was used as a small concert hall, the Art Gallery, the Parade Dining Room, the Beige Lounge, the Mirror ballroom with a beautiful acoustics, since it was originally intended for concerts and is still used as such, the Golden Crimson Drawing Room. In all of these and other halls there is still the art décor of the middle-end-19th century: fireplaces, lamps, stucco, paintings, mirrors, furniture and much more.

350 m
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