Imperial Mansion: The History of the Winter Palace

Winter VS Summer
Where did the tradition of dividing the houses of monarchs into winter and summer come from? The roots of this phenomenon can be found even in the times of Muscovy. It was then that for the first time the kings began to leave the Kremlin walls for the summer and set off to breathe air to Izmailovo or Kolomna. Peter I transferred this tradition to the new capital. The Emperor’s Winter Palace stood on the spot where the modern building is located, and the Summer Palace can be found in the Summer Garden. It was built under the leadership of Trezzini and is, in fact, a small two-story house with 14 rooms.
From the house to the palace
The history of the creation of the Winter Palace is no secret to anyone: Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, a great lover of luxury, in 1752 ordered architect Rastrelli to build the most beautiful palace in Russia for herself. But it was built not from scratch: before that, on the territory where the Hermitage Theater is now located, stood the small winter palace of Peter I. The wooden palace of Anna Ivanovna, which was built under the leadership of Trezzini, replaced the Great House. But the building was not luxurious enough, so the empress, who returned the status of the capital to St. Petersburg, chose a new architect, Rastrelli. It was Rastrelli Sr., father of the famous Francesco Bartolomeo. For almost 20 years, the new palace became the residence of the imperial family. And then came the same Winter, which we know today - the fourth in a row.


Winter Palace of Anna Ivanovna

The tallest building in St. Petersburg
When Elizaveta Petrovna wished to build a new palace, the architect planned to use the previous building as a base for economy. But the empress demanded to increase the height of the palace from 14 to 22 two meters. Rastrelli several times reworked the building project, and Elizabeth did not want to move the site of construction, so the architect had to simply demolish the old palace and in its place build a new one. Only in 1754 the empress approved the project.
Interestingly, for a long time the Winter Palace remained the tallest building in St. Petersburg. In 1762, even a decree was issued prohibiting the construction of buildings in the capital above the imperial residence. It was because of this decree of the company "Zinger" at the beginning of the XX century that they had to abandon their idea of ​​building a skyscraper for themselves on Nevsky Prospect, as in New York. As a result, a tower was built over six floors with a mansard and decorated it with a globe creating an altitude impression.


Zinger House on Nevsky Prospect

In 1762 it was forbidden to build buildings in St. Petersburg above the Winter Palace.

Elizabethan Baroque
The palace was built in the style of the so-called Elizabethan baroque. It is a quad with a large courtyard. The building is decorated with columns, platbands, and the roof balustrade is lined with dozens of luxurious vases and statues. But the building was rebuilt several times, at the end of the 18th century, Quarenghi, Montferrand, Rossi worked on the interior, and after the notorious fire of 1837, Stasov and Bryullov, so that baroque elements were not kept everywhere. Details magnificent style remained in the interior of the famous Jordan front staircase. It received its name from the Jordanian passage, which was nearby. Through him on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the imperial family and the highest clergy went out to the hole in the Neva. Such a ceremony was traditionally called the “move to Jordan”. Baroque details are also preserved in the decoration of the Great Church. But the church was devastated, and now only the large ceiling of Fontebasso with the image of the Resurrection of Christ reminds of her appointment.


Jordan Staircase

In 1946, the Winter Palace became part of the Hermitage

In 1762, Catherine II ascended the throne, who did not like Rastrelli's pompous style. The architect was dismissed, and new masters began to finish the interiors. They destroyed the Throne Room and erected a new Nevsky Suite. Under the leadership of Quarenghi, the St. George or Great Throne Hall was created. For him, I had to make a small extension to the east facade of the palace. At the end of the 19th century, the Red Boudoir, the Golden Lounge and the Library of Nicholas II appeared.

Polyakov's painting “Nikolai II's Throne Speech at the Opening of the First State Duma in the Winter Palace”. The painting depicts the Great Throne Room

Hard days of the Revolution
In the first days of the Revolution of 1917, a huge number of treasures of the Winter Palace were stolen by sailors and workers. Only a few days later the Soviet government guessed to take the building under protection. A year later, the palace was given a museum of the Revolution, so that part of the interiors were rebuilt. For example, the Romanov Gallery was destroyed, where portraits of all the emperors and their families were located, and in the Nicholas Hall they began to show cinema at all. In 1922 part of the building was transferred to the Hermitage, and only by 1946 did the entire Winter Palace become part of the museum.

In the early days of the Revolution, many Winter treasures were stolen.

During World War II, the palace building was damaged by air raids and artillery shelling. Since the beginning of the war, most of the exhibits on display at the Winter Palace were deposited in the Ipatiev Mansion, the same one where the family of Emperor Nicholas II was shot. About 2,000 people lived in the Hermitage bomb shelters. They tried their best to preserve the exhibits remaining in the walls of the palace. Sometimes they had to catch porcelain and chandeliers floating in submerged basements.

Hermitage during the Great Patriotic War

Fluffy guards
Not only water threatened to spoil the objects of art, but also voracious rats. For the first time, a moustached army for the Winter Palace was sent from Kazan in 1745. Catherine II did not like cats, but left striped advocates at the court in the status of “guards of art galleries”. During the blockade, all the cats in the city died, because of which the rats bred and began to spoil the interiors of the palace. After the war, 5,000 cats were brought to the Hermitage, which quickly dealt with tailed pests.


Every Hermitage security cat has their own passport

A whole army of fluffy guards lives in the Hermitage

Since the time of Elizabeth Petrovna, every Hermitage cat has its own passport, every qualified security guard is regularly examined by veterinarians. Recently, the director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky set a limit of 50 cats, the rest are distributed in good hands. So anyone can become the owner of the Hermitage pet.

Watch the video: The Winter Palace through the Ages (November 2019).

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