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The last representative of the eighteenth century - Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg

The unique palace erected by Paul the First completed the history of eighteenth-century architecture and became the only ensemble in Russia in the style of romantic classicism. Today, the unique building is a museum in which anyone can get acquainted with Emperor life story, see the unique collection of paintings and architecture, and listen to fascinating lectures on the theme of history!

How to reach Mikhailovsky Palace in St. Petersburg

The Palace is located in St. Petersburg on Sadovaya Street, 2. Two buildings are also adjacent to the museum - Vostochny, located on Engineering Street, 10 and Zapadniy, located on Engineering Street, 8.

You can get to the Gostiny Dvor metro station, located on a green branch - you only have to walk 700 meters from the station right along Sadovaya Street to the castle. Going underground to the Nevsky Prospekt station, as some guides advise, is not necessary at all - the road will take the same time, but chances of getting lost are much higher. You can also take tram № 3 and get off at the Mikhailovsky Palace stop - you will immediately see the building and definitely not get lost.

The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m., the ticket office closes at 4 p.m. The day off is Tuesday. Every month on the 18th, open door days are held for schoolchildren and students. On Thursdays, there is an extended working day, and the museum can be visited until 9 p.m.

The history of Mikhailovsky Palace and its owners

Mikhailovsky Palace is a striking example and the final element of Petersburg architecture era of the 18th century. The palace was built on the site of the former Summer Palace, created by Rastrelli for Elizabeth Petrovna. By order of Paul the First, the palace was dismantled immediately after the death of the emperor's mother.

The construction of the new castle was carried out according to the ideas and sketches of Paul himself and began in 1784. The design took almost twelve years, and during this time architects turned to different styles of architecture and patterns that Paul met while traveling abroad. At various stages, such eminent architects as Viollier, Brenna and Bazhenov were connected to the palace’s design.

Paul could realize his plan only after accession to the throne - the coronation took place in 1796, and on February 28, 1797, the castle was solemnly laid. Architect Brenna, who developed the final project and worked on the artistic decoration, led the construction process. The ceremonial consecration of the castle took place on November 8, 1800, but the finishing work inside continued until March 1801.

The castle became the imperial residence, but, unfortunately, Paul the First enjoyed his new palace for only 40 days - the emperor was the victim of a court plot and was killed in his own bedroom. Soon after his death, all valuables were taken out of the castle, the front rooms were converted to accommodate employees of departmental institutions, and the remaining rooms were given out for housing. In the early twenties of the nineteenth century, the building was transferred to the possession of the Main Engineering School, and a couple of years later the castle was renamed into Engineering. The patron saint of the school was Emperor Nicholas the First, and after his death, the institution was renamed the Nikolaev Engineering Academy, which was subsequently graduated by Sechenev, Cui, Totleben and Dostoevsky.

Over the next two centuries, the castle housed military schools, Soviet state structures and other institutions, which caused repeated redevelopment and rebuilding of rooms and interiors. Only in 1991 the palace passed under the control of the State Russian Museum.

Interesting facts and legends of Mikhailovsky Palace

  • Surprisingly, Emperor Pavel the First was born in the Summer Palace of Elizabeth Petrovna - exactly in the same place where, after years, he built his own castle and spent the last minutes of his life;
  • Pavel the First was so obsessed with the idea of building a castle on the Fontanka embankment that he ordered the suspension of many other construction projects and the removal of materials from them. Therefore, marble was taken out of St. Isaac's Cathedral, expensive stacked parquet was taken from Tauride Castle, columns, friezes, sculptures and decorative stone were brought from Tsarskoye Selo. In total, more than six thousand people worked at the construction site day and night - in the dark, jobs were illuminated with torches;
  • Historians to this day are debating about the nature of the choice of castle walls color. Many are inclined to attribute it to the fact that Paul the First was the master of Maltese Order, whose traditional color was yellow-orange. Some believe that the emperor chose the color by chance when one of his favorites dropped a yellow glove. In any case, the shade quickly became fashionable and other buildings in the city began to be painted in it;
  • The fast moving of the Emperor to the castle was due to his fear of palace conspiracies. Mikhailovsky Palace was conceived as a fortress - it was washed by two rivers and canals with drawbridges. Even before the finishing of the premises was completed, the emperor, together with his wife and heirs, solemnly moved to the palace, where he spent the last weeks of his life;
  • Near the king’s bedroom was a secret passage created for an emergency escape from the castle in case of an attack. If you believe the opinion of historians, it was this means of salvation that became destructive for the emperor - attackers were able to make their way unnoticed directly to the sleeping Paul. Probably surrounded by the monarch was a traitor, who told the killers about the secret passage - a very narrow circle of people knew about its presence;
  • According to legend, the name of the castle was not given by chance. A young man in a halo of radiance appeared in front of one of the guards at the Summer Palace and ordered the soldier to go to the emperor and convey his will - to build a temple and a house named after Archangel Michael. However, many historians rightly believe that this legend helped the emperor to justify a hasty construction of the palace;
  • For a short period of residence in the castle, the emperor managed to hold a gala reception in the Throne Hall of Malta in honor of the Danish Count Levendahl, arrange a masquerade and a concert at which Madame Chevalier performed (there were rumors that she was Paul’s mistress and French spy);
  • The number 4 was sacred for the emperor - in his youth he was told that this number will determine his whole life. Coincidence or not, but Paul ruled for 4 years, 4 months and 4 days, lived in the castle for four dozen days and died at 47.

What should be definitely seen in Mikhailovsky Palace

Today, 21 halls are open for visiting in the palace, and the following ones are the most popular:

Throne Hall of the Empress

In these chambers, Maria Fedorovna received guests, held receptions and balls. In 2002, the room was completely renovated to restore the interiors, but the gilded stucco decorations and chandeliers with exquisite ruby ​​glass remained intact.

Marble Gallery

In this hall, especially honored guests and ambassadors from other countries were received. The gallery was destroyed for the extraction of marble during the reign of Nicholas II, and the German bomb during the blockade completely destroyed the colonnade and half of the ceilings. The gallery was painstakingly restored from archival documents and photographs.

Oval Hall

This is one of the few halls that survived after centuries of palace history and retained the original decoration of artificial marble. Initially, the hall was planned as a rest room, but a model workshop was located here during the years of the school.

Main staircase

Traditionally, all excursions in the palace begin and finish here. Today, flights of stairs can be seen as they were in pre-revolutionary times. One element of decor is especially interesting - a two-headed eagle with a Maltese cross on its chest. It was the symbol of the Pavlovian era of St. Petersburg.

Konstantinovsky chambers

Today a collection of samples of foreign painting is stored here - original paintings by Lagrenet, Torelli, Groot, Rotary and Robertson, as well as an exclusive collection of products that were produced at the Imperial Porcelain Factory - personalized dishes, vases, busts and figurines of the pre-revolutionary era.

George Hall

It adjoins the throne room of the emperor and originally served as a gathering place for the Knights of Maltese Order. In the period of 19-20 centuries, the hall was rebuilt several times, and the original decor was irretrievably destroyed. In the sixties of the last century, the hall was renovated, and the original appearance was partially restored, and in 2007 the attic floor was reconstructed.

Dining room

It enters the set of ceremonial halls of Empress Maria Fyodorovna. The decoration was done according to Brenna’s drawings using two chandeliers for 50 thousand candles, which were originally designed for the Winter Palace. In the hall there are also two fireplaces from Siberian porphyry. In the mid-nineteenth century, the hall was divided into three rooms for the offices of the engineering school. In the period 2002-2003, the hall was completely restored to its original appearance.

You will not be disappointed if you visit the following exhibitions and individual exhibits:

Monument to the witness of a miracle

There is a belief that this small statuette of a guardsman is dedicated to a soldier to whom a youth appeared and ordered to build Mikhailovsky Palace. The figurine even has a name - Lieutenant Kizhe.  There is a legend that if you throw a coin into it from the bridge and hit the head, it will burst into an angry tirade and a portion of unique soldier curses.

Exhibition of the Romanov era

Here you will find a unique collection of paintings, prints, drawings and antiques of the last tsars' dynasty. All exhibits are authentic and dedicated to the life of St. Petersburg inhabitants. The collection was gathered from the storerooms of the Russian Museum and donations from private collections.

Faces of Russia

This gallery presents the history of portraiture development. Here you can see the works of Venetsianov, Repin, Bryullov and Kramskoy. The portraits depict great state figures, writers, composers and musicians, military leaders and generals. The last gallery hall demonstrates the pre-revolutionary chronicle from the archives.

Open sculpture fund

This is one of the museum’s most popular halls - it contains the work of sculptors from the 18th century to the present day, including avant-garde works of twentieth-century masters and examples of Soviet constructivism.

Our romantic emperor

This is an interactive project in the western pavilion of the museum dedicated to Paul the First. The exhibition offers a lecture hall for adults, quizzes and puzzles for children and three-dimensional hologram of the imperial crown (the original is stored in the Kremlin).

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