Monday, December 05, 2011

Catherine Palace

I started this post  a few days ago and as sometimes happens time got away from me.  Anyway I'm almost through the St. Petersburg posts.

One of the most memorable places we visited during our Baltic Cruise in the summer was Catherine Place.

The Catherine Palace was known until 1910 as the Great Palace of Tsarskoye Selo. It was started in 1717 and was expanded upon many times. It was famed for its lavish gold leafed exterior.

Of the 58 halls destroyed during the war years, 32 have been recreated.

The entry to the palace grounds is through this gold leaf gate:

Our tour was one of the few allowed to visit on a Sunday evening(yes these are evening photos!) and we were greeted by a marching band.

The exterior of the palace, simply stunning.

One of the first rooms we visited was the Picture Hall which gets its name from its original décor, painted canvases arranged according to the tapestry principle. During the Second World War the Picture Hall was burnt out, but most of the paintings were saved by evacuation (114 out of 130).

This room is called the Green Dining room but I think it should be called the Wedgewood Room:

The Green Dining Room marks the beginning of the private apartments in the northern part of the palace that were created in the 1770s on the orders of Catherine II for her son, Grand Duke Paul (the future Paul I)and his first wife Natalia Alexeyevna. Isn't it beautiful!

The Chinese Drawing-Room also belonged to the private imperial apartments.

When the room was restored after the Second World War, the lost Chinese silk was replaced with white damask.

The White State dining room was also designed by Rastrelli.

Since Empress Elizabeth’s time the walls of this room were lined with white damask that in combination with the gilded carvings gave the interior a special elegance. The doors to each room are designed to allow you to look through into each room.

Also designed by Rastrelli is the Cavaliers’ Dining Room. It is not particularly large so mirrors were placed and false windows containing mirrors added on the walls, making the hall appear more spacious and bright. The treatment of the interior is typical of Baroque.

And here we are finally at the world renowned Amber Room.

When Peter the Great met Frederick William I in November 1716 to mark the alliance between Russia and Prussia, the King gave the Emperor gifts that included the Amber Study. It was originally installed in the Winter Palace but with ongoing construction was moved more than once.

In July 1755 Empress Elizabeth ordered Rastrelli to create a new Amber Room in the Catherine Palace. The Amber panels now on display are recreations as the originals went missing after the Second World War.

We ended out tour in The Great Hall where we were greeted with champagne.

This is the largest room in the palace, with windows on both sides and framed baroque mirrors alternating with the windows create the illusion of more space.

The sculptural and ornamental carving that covers the walls of the Great Hall in a single continuous pattern was produced by 130 Russian woodcarvers. Truly a spectacular room!

And we were treated to period dancing by Catherine herself!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of Catherine Palace.


Rosemary said...

so impressive, even then conspicuous consumption

Avril Tanner said...

This is gorgeous! I can not believe the detail in the architecture and decorating!

Deanna said...

Wow, how amazing!