Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg – a must-see sight

What is the winter palace in St. Petersburg?

The current Winter Palace is the sixth version of a winter residence of the Russian royal family. Previous constructions were either too small or were destroyed. The current palace was built in 1762 by the project of F. B. Rastrelli. This Baroque-style three-story building is an important part of architectural and cultural heritage. 

Romanov Winter Palace design

The Winter Palace is three times bigger than most of the luxury apartments of those times. The building has more than a thousand rooms and a spacious courtyard. It is 210 m long and 175 m wide, standing along the Neva river and facing the famous Palace Square. The metal decorations with Rome mythology roots are everywhere. For example, the entrance is decorated with bronze sculptures of Neptune and Amphitrite. The stone parapet of the roof is decorated by sculptures of gods, nymphs, knights and mystical creatures. The white columns are arranged into tiers and look perfectly in tune with the green walls of the palace. 

By Rastrelli architectural project, all four facades of the palace were decorated in different styles. The Southern facade was divided with three arches to create a grand entrance to the courtyard. The northern facade creates an impression of an endless colonnade. The eastern facade forms a large front yard that faces the Millionnaya street, while the western facade, looking at the Admiralty, resembles the composition of a country palace. 

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The Hermitage in Russian Winter palace

Catherine II ruled to organize the Winter Garden and the Romanov Gallery in St. Petersburg Winter Palace, which were further expanded under the rule of Nicholas I. The gallery holds a number of well-known paintings. Nowadays, “The State Hermitage” is known in the whole world. The complex takes up the Winter Palace, the Hermitage Theater, the Small, New and the Great Hermitage.

Winter Palace and the Hermitage today

Centuries ago, it was decided to hold the democratization policy to let more people access the cultural heritage inside Hermitage. In 1856, the New Hermitage building was completed and in 1866 its doors were opened for everyone for free. However, blue-collar workers and peasants still weren’t able to enter the building, but this decision already had a big cultural impact. 

The revolution had a great impact on the museum. Of course, there were new acquisitions, but many valuable paintings from private collections of Russian aristocrats and industrialists were either lost, sold, moved or destroyed. 

In the 1920s, despite all the troubles the Hermitage had to go through, its territory has drastically increased, expanding to the premises of the former royal residence to accommodate its expositions. The Winter Palace and Hermitage basically became one. After World War II, German works of art were added to the museum as part of compensation for masterpieces destroyed by Hitler’s troops

Hermitage and the Winter Palace are definitely worth visiting, so if you have a chance to don’t hesitate.


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