Monday, December 17, 2012

The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia – 1,500 Rooms

The Winter Palace in Palace Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, is the palace with the beautiful gold onion dome, seen in picture postcards from Russia. In fact, this golden onion dome is actually the dome of the majestic church within the beautiful Winter Palace, called the Grand Church. Located between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, Russia’s Winter Palace runs alongside the Neva River, and was the resident palace of Russia’s royalty from 1732 - 1739.

Exterior of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, with the Grand Church dome 

The architecture of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was designed by a range of famous architects, the most famous of whom was Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The architectural style of the palace is known as the Elizabethan Baroque style. Russia’s Winter Palace is shaped like an elongated rectangle, with a main façade that is 250 metres long. The palace is extremely huge, and has a whopping 1,500 lavishly decorated rooms, with a total of 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 117 staircases.

One of the bedrooms in the Winter Palace, with intricate gold parquetry work

The Winter Palace is actually a collection of small palaces, with rooms assigned to each royal family member according to rank and line. The interior architecture of the Winter Palace is a combination of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture. There are three floors in this majestic Russian palace. The rooms of members of the Russian royal family are on the first floor; the offices of the bureaucracy and government are on the ground floor; while the quarters of senior courtiers and officials are located on the second floor.

The thousand of servants who ran the palace lived in the attics of the Winter Palace, in small servant’s quarters. Some even managed to smuggle cows up there for milk.

The grand Malachite drawing room in St.Petersburg's Winter Palace

 Other beautiful rooms in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in Russia are:
  • The Malachite Drawing Room: This room was the principal reception room of the Empress. 
  • The Gold Drawing Room: This is the reception hall of the Empress’ daughter-in-law. 
  • The White Hall: This is yet another reception hall in the Winter Palace, which belonged to the Tsar and the Tsarina. 
  • The Jordon Staircase: This staircase is one of the few features of the Winter Palace that is constructed in the original 18th century Rococo architectural style, a remnant of the original palace that burnt down in the early 1800s. 
  • The Grand Church: All Russian royal weddings were held in this church, strictly according to tradition. The bride was dressed by the Empress, in a wedding dress specified by the strict conventions of the Romanov Tsars.

The majestic Jordan Staircase of the Winter Palace with grey-granite columns

The Russian royal family is known to have thrown lavish parties at the Winter Palace, which was always luxuriously decorated. The grand dining table could seat about 1,000 guests, while the state rooms could hold up to 10,000 people (standing) at a time. All rooms in the Winter Palace were brightly lit and heated to an extent that tropical plants blossomed inside, even when it was freezing cold outside. As there was no electricity in those days (mid-18th century), all chandeliers were lit with candlesticks, and there were candlesticks, lanterns and fireplaces all around to provide light and heat.

Today, the Winter Palace in Russia is part of the State Hermitage Museum, and is generally visited by all tourists and visitors who come to the city of St. Petersburg in Russia.

What do you think of the beautiful Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia? Would you have liked to live here in the 18th century?

Read about other beautiful palaces:

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