Noble palaces of St. Petersburg

As soon as St. Petersburg became the capital in the early 18th century, the construction of palaces immediately began here. The word "Palaces of St. Petersburg" usually refers to the royal palaces, such as Peterhof or Tsarskoe Selo. However, in St. Petersburg there are also noble palaces that deserve attention.

In another review on the site Geometric you can read about the «Royal palaces of St. Petersburg».

TOP10: Noble palaces of St. Petersburg:

1.    Mikhailovsky Palace
2.    Yusupov Palace
3.    Palace Of Oranienbaum
4.    Marble Palace
5.    Menshikov Palace
6.    Stroganov Palace
7.    Sheremetyev Palace
8.    Nikolayev Palace
9.    Tavrichesky Palace
10.    Derzhavin Palace


Mikhailovsky Palace

The Mikhailovsky Palace on the Griboyedov Canal is one of the main attractions of St. Petersburg, as it houses the exposition of the Russian Museum. It is possible to see hundreds of paintings by Russian artists. Russian artists ' works are represented in many museums of the country, but the most famous of them are the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

The Mikhailovsky Palace was built by the great Russian architect Karl Rossi between 1819 and 1825 for Mikhail Romanov, the younger brother of Emperor Alexander I. The palace was named after him, as well as the nearby Mikhailovsky Garden.

A large number of interesting sights are concentrated around the palace: Cathedral of the Savior on Blood, Engineering Castle, Field of Mars, Summer Garden. Near the Mikhailovsky Palace, you can take a excursion boat and see the Canals of St. Petersburg. One of the attractions of the Mikhailovsky Garden is its wrought-iron fence.

In 1896, the "Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III" was opened in the Mikhailovsky Palace. It presents paintings by all famous artists of Russia: Repin, Perov, Aivazovsky, Bryullov, Vasnetsov, Serov, Surikov, Levitan, and many others. In addition to the paintings in the Mikhailovsky Palace, the palace interiors are preserved, which are of great interest.

Yusupov Palace

The Yusupov Palace on the Moika River belonged to one of the richest princely families in Russia – the Yusupovs. They had more than 50 palaces and houses all over Russia, but the most luxurious of them are the Yusupov Palace on Moika and the Arkhangelskoe Estate in Moscow. After the Revolution of 1917, almost all of these palaces and houses were requisitioned and nothing is known about them, but these two places have been turned into museums and invariably attract thousands of tourists.

The Yusupovs palace on Moika was the most luxurious of all their estates, and besides, a historical event took place here. On December 17, 1916, Grigory Rasputin was killed here and Prince Felix Yusupov took a direct part in it. A detailed exhibition has been created in the basement where the murder took place.

The Yusupov Palace belonged to this family from 1830 to 1917 and five generations lived there. Over time, it became one of the most luxurious palaces in St. Petersburg. For balls and theatrical performances, magnificent halls were created here.
The main attraction of Yusupov Palace on Moika is the Home Theater. The interior of the theater has remained to this day in the original form. The balls in the Yusupov Palace were held in the White-Bell Hall. The architects managed to create the perfect acoustics here, so necessary for orchestras and singers.

Menshikov Palace in Oranienbaum

The Menshikov Palace in Oranienbaum surpassed the Monplaisir palace in the country, which Tsar Peter I built for himself in Peterhof. The same thing happened in St. Petersburg. There, Menshikov's palace on Vasilievsky Island was more luxurious than Peter's Summer Palace on Fontanka. Prince Menshikov was governor-General of St. Petersburg  and during the life of Peter I, Alexander Menshikov did not lose his trust.

Menshikov Palace in Oraniebaum is located 10 kilometers from Peterhof. Name Oranienbaum happened to a variety of orange trees. The Grand Menshikov Palace is built on a terrace. Cascading stairs descend to the Lower Park from there. The length of the palace facade is 210 meters. Wings with towers were built on both sides of the palace.

In front of the facade of the Menshikov palace is made a Lower regular Park, and behind the palace was created a large landscape park Peterstadt. After Menshikov's exile in Berezov, the Oranienbaum palace became the property of the tsar. A few decades later, several architectural ensembles appeared in Oranienbaum Park: Chinese Palace, Tsarina Catherine's own villa, as well as the “Toy fortress” of Peterstadt with a small Palace of Peter III.

Menshikov Palace in St.Petersburg

Simultaneously with the Summer Palace of Peter I, Prince Alexander Menshikov began to build a palace for himself. Menshikov in those years was the closest man to Peter I, besides, in the Northern War he proved to be a talented commander. In gratitude, Peter I gave him the entire Vasilyevsky Island, where the prince launched a large construction.

The Menshikov Palace in St.Petersburg and the park occupied a huge space on Vasilievsky island from the Big Neva to the Little Neva river. Foreigners who visited St. Petersburg at that time called it "the most luxurious palace in the city". Peter I in those years had only a small two-story Summer Palace on the Fontanka River and a small Winter Palace on Milionnaya Street.

Such a display of the luxury of a courtier, even if close to the tsar, was not quite right. However, there are explanations for this. Menshikov in those years was the first Governor-General of St. Petersburg and he needed a spacious palace for representative purposes. Besides, Menshikov was the main commander of the Russian troops in the Northern War and a year earlier he won a great victory at Poltava, and also took Vyborg, so the tsar gave him a lot.

In the Menshikov Palace, Tsar Peter held receptions, dinners, and even played his wedding here. He often lived here as well. Other noblemen, Sheremetyev and Dolgoruky, also played their weddings here, since they did not yet have stone palaces in St.Petersburg. In the Menshikov Palace, Anna Ioannovna and Biron also played their wedding.

The most interesting are the Walnut living room, Varvara's room, the Study with the Hall and the Bedroom. This is the name of the state rooms on the personal half of Menshikov's Palace. 

Marble Palace

The Marble Palace is located on the Neva embankment near the Trinity Bridge, which is why it is so noticeable among the sights of St. Petersburg. Everyone who admires the grand embankment of the Neva River, notice the strict features of this beautiful palace.

The marble Palace in 1768-1785. This was the gift of Catherine II to her favorite Gregory Orlov for his help in the palace revolution, which had brought her to the power. Apart from the Marble Palace, Catherine also gave him the summer residence – Gatchina Palace.

The lower floor of the palace is faced with pink granite, and two upper floors – with light grey serdobol granite. Most halls of the palace are decorated with marble panels, hence the name of the palace. The palace was built in the style of austere classicism, which replaced the baroque style of Rastrelli.

The construction of the Gatchina Palace was completed by 1781 and Grigory Orlov lived there for a short while. The Marble Palace was completed only by 1785. In the last years of his life, Orlov was no longer a favorite of Catherine II, and he died in 1783. Thus, he could not live in the Marble Palace. After the death of Grigory Orlov, the Marble Palace often changed its owners. Finally, Konstantin Nikolaevich Romanov, the second son of Nicholas I, settled there.

Stroganov Palace

Stroganov Palace is located in the heart of St. Petersburg. Many nobles built palaces on the banks of the canals of St. Petersburg, but the Stroganovs built their palace at the intersection of the Moika River and the main street of the city – Nevsky Prospekt. You can't find a more central place in the city.

The palace for Prince Stroganov was one of the first works of the famous Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli, who would later build all the most famous royal palaces in the Baroque style.

Stroganov Palace was built in the period from 1752 to 1754. At the end of the 18th century, a fire broke out in the palace. Most of Rastrelli's interiors were lost in fire. Ballroom only preserved in the original form and now it is called the Hall of Rastrelli. In 1801, the former serf of Stroganov, architect Voronikhin restored the palace after a fire.

A significant part of the palace is occupied by the Mineralogical Cabinet. Above the workroom, you can see the dome of the second floor. The galleries under the dome house a collection of minerals. The minerals and the Stroganov Library are also stored in the study downstairs.

Sheremetyev Palace

The Sheremetyev Palace is located on the embankment of the Fontanka River, so it was often called the "Fountain House". The princely family of the Sheremetevs was one of the richest in Russia. In Moscow, the magnificent Kuskovo estate and Ostankino estate in Moscow region.

Tsar Peter I presented a plot of land on Fontanka to Field Marshal Boris Sheremetyev for his services in the Northern War with Sweden. This plot was located in the immediate vicinity of the Summer Garden, where the Summer Palace of Peter the Great was located.

The Sheremetyev Palace was built in 1750 by the architect Savva Chevakinsky using drawings by the court architect Francesco Rastrelli. From the middle of the 18th century until 1917, the Sheremetyev Palace was owned by five generations of this noble family.

The Sheremetev Palace is interesting for the interiors of certain chambers, such as the Etruscan and Stucco drawing-rooms, St. Barbara Church. . The main value of the Sheremetyev Palace is the museum of musical instruments. It houses one of the world's largest collections of various musical instruments.

Nikolaevsky palace

Nikolaevsky palace on the Annunciation Square, near the English Embankment, was built in 1853-1861 by the architect Andrei Stakenschneider for the third son of Nicholas I, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievich. The palace was one of the bright examples of the Italian Neo-Renaissance in St. Petersburg.

Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich often held balls and receptions here. The interiors of the Nicholas Palace were among the most luxurious for their time. The grand staircase of the palace from the first to the third floor was the largest of all the palaces in St. Petersburg. The front staircase of the palace rising from the ground floor to the second floor was one of the biggest in St. Petersburg.

After the death of Nikolai Nikolaievich in 1890 the palace was taken by the treasury on account of debt repayment. Later, it was was occupied by the Kseninsky Institute, an educational establishment for maidens bereaved of their fathers. The girls were taught there only book-keeping and needlework. After 1918 the palace was given to the Union of Labor Organizations and was renamed Palace of Labour. 

Now the palace is occupied by various organizations, and the rooms are rented for different events. However, most interiors, including the main staircase and the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church, were reconstructed. 

Tauride Palace

The Tauride Palace was built by Grigory Potemkin in the period from 1783 to 1789, in the reign of Catherine II. Potemkin was a favorite, and then the husband of Catherine. After the victory over the Turks and the annexation of the Crimea, he was granted the title of Prince of Tauride. So was called the palace that Potemkin.

The Tauride Palace was built by the architect Ivan Starov, but the ideas of its layout belonged to Potemkin himself. He asked Starov to build "a one-story palace that would amaze by its luxury." However, the central building still had two floors.

The Tauride Palace of Potemkin is considered the prototype of a huge number of noble estates in Russia. The colonnade of the main entrance and the huge rotunda with a dome above it have been repeatedly reproduced in hundreds of noble estates throughout the country. However, it should be noted that for the first time the projects of such palaces were implemented by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio and later the architectural style "Palladianism" will be named after him.

The palace had rather singular layout. The area of the palace is 65 thousand m2. The length of the main facade reached 260 meters. In those years, the palace was one of the largest in Russia. The entire space of the central part of palace was occupied by four halls: the Lobby, the Domed Hall, the Grand Gallery and the Winter Garden with a rotunda. The Grand Gallery with its gigantic dimensions (length 75 m, width 15 m) was the largest palace room of the 18th century. Behind the Tauride Palace, a large park was laid out, making it a country estate.

In 1906 tsar Nicolas II gave the Tauride Palace to the State Duma, the first Russian parliament. Half of the Winter Garden was rebuilt as the amphitheatre and made a Meeting Hall. Today it is the seat of the Parliamentary Assembly of CIS.

Museum-estate of Derzhavin

The Gavriil Derzhavin Estate Museum is located on the Fontanka River embankment. Since 2003, the museum of this great Russian poet of the 18th century has been created in the three-story Derzhavin family palace. Behind the palace there is a greenhouse, as well as a Polish garden.

Gavriil Romanovich Derzhavin was born in 1743. He was not only a great Russian poet and playwright, but also an powerful statesman of the era of Catherine II. In 1784, Derzhavin was appointed governor of the new province in Karelia. His literary fame came after the publication of the ode "Felitsa", which was dedicated to Catherine II.

Construction of the Derzhavin Palace began in 1791, designed by architect Nikolai Lvov. The project was very ambitious, so Derzhavin had to mortgage many of his lands and serfs. By 1794, the mansion on Fontanka was finished. The main building with wings was located away from the Fontanka River. Literary evenings and balls were frequently held in the house.

After the death of Gavriil Derzhavin in 1816, the house was owned by his wife Daria, but they had no heirs. After her death, the Derzhavin estate went to the state and was later purchased by the  Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical College of St. Petersburg. Here was the residence of the Catholic archbishop. By that time, Derzhavin's mansion was substantially rebuilt. Two outbuildings were completed around the courtyard in front of the main house. Their facades now face the Fontanka River embankment. This is how Derzhavin's palace has remained to this day.