We already had a look at The Great Catherine Palace from the park, so now lets go inside…
Its not so crowded here in the winter, the quiet time, lot fewer tourists than during the summer. The whole Palace at our disposal for only 70 rubles (including photo and video shooting)
The Main Staircase.
Architect Monigetty, 1860
Some parts of the Palace were renovated accordingly to changing fashion, for example this particular staircase replaced an older Chinese hall.
The Great (Throne) Hall.
Architect F. B.Rasstrelly
The actual square area of the Great Hall is about 9.000 square foot (1000 square meters); the "Triumph of Russia" is the largest ceiling painting in Europe.
The hall is just as wide as the Palace itself.
The extensive use of mirrors makes this enormous space look even bigger.
The carving of intricate cartouches by sculptor Dunker took the work of about 130 master craftsmen. A few names: Peter Valuhin, Dimitry Sakulisniy, Ivan Sukhoi…
Walnut, maple and oak were mostly used for the parquetry.
The passage from the Great Hall into Cavalier's dining room.
Cavalier's dining room.
The name comes from the traditional dinners in this particular room for the Cavaliers of Russian orders.
Architect F. B.Rasstrelly
The Enfilade-The suite of rooms in one line was the most popular interior system in 18th century. It is all very fine in Versailles or Rome, but in Russia…far too drafty.
The golden cartouche is adorning the doorway.
The proper architectural name for the ceiling painting is "plafond".
The notorious Amber Room.
Architect A. Shluter.
The original Amber cabinet was created (around 1701 -1713) by Prussian craftsmen for the king's palace in Berlin, but fell out of favor and in 1716 was presented unfinished among other gifts to Peter I.
Then it was forgotten for some time.
It was rediscovered by Peter's daughter Elisabeth and installed first in the Winter Palace. In 1755 it eventually moved to Tsarskoe selo and noticeably grown from the cabinet into the Room, but in some places it is only an illusion of the amber, some panels are just paintings on the wall.
The main wall panels are the amber mosaics, but between them and the ceiling- the painted version.
The amber is the fossilized resin of the prehistoric trees. The most of it is found in Kaliningrad (former Kenicksberg) on the Baltic Sea.
The Florentine stile mosaics in the center of each amber panel
are depicting the Allegories of the five senses.
The Amber Room had been dismantled and stolen by Nazis during the war; the extensive searches by enthusiasts as well as governments were fruitless.
The painstaking restoration process began in 1979 and officially finished this year. Unfortunately it became too much of the sensation, in my opinion there are other rooms in this palace which look even more astonishing than the Amber Room, in fact… I almost missed it…
Another interesting fact: most of the amber used came from Customs; it was confiscated from illegal smugglers.
Next is the Picture Hall.
Amazing, 130 paintings are completely covering the walls here, at the time it used to be one of the richest collections of western masters of the XVII-XVIII centuries.
Architect F. B.Rasstrelly.
Most of the collection (112 paintings) had been acquired in Prague (about 1745) by the artist G. Grott under the special orders of the Empress Elizabeth.
This Hall is in the same style as one in the Great Peterhof Palace. But there, all the pictures are portraits of pretty peasant girls.
The Great Catherine Palace remains an unmatched triumph of Russian decorative art. At the beginning of the war in Russia (1941) from 30 June up to 23 August the museum workers frantically tried to evacuate the collection but there was neither enough time nor resources.
After the Nazi army left they found the Palace reduced to a charred shell.
Thanks to a massive restoration effort it has been stunningly re-created. However, it is still work in progress and not all the rooms are open yet.
More of the Great Catherine Palace is in the next album.