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The northern façade of the Marble Palace came forward to the Palace Embankment. Its front eastern façade is turned to the side of a small garden behind a jour metallic grill.
The Palace is modest and noble in an aristocratic way. All its pilasters and semi-columns are made of light-pink marble, and square raised panels – of dark-blue marble with light streaks. Architect Antonio Rinaldi sensed very well the natural beauty of marble and skillfully used it in finishing facades and the Palace interior. The Marble Palace was raised by order of Catherine the Great. The loveful Empress wanted to present it to her favorite – the Count Gregory Orlov. However, the construction took so long time that the favorite passed away without getting the gift. For some time, it was inhabited by the grandson of the Empress, Grand Prince Konstantin, then, decrowned Polish King Stanislav Ponyatovsky. By the way, an ex-lover of Catherine as well.
In 1831, the Emperor Nicholas the First transferred the Marble Palace to his second son, Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolaevich, who headed the Naval Office of the Russian Empire. By the tradition, one of the members of the grand-ducal family, had to serve in the Navy. Therefore, his son Konstantin Konstantinovich became a naval officer as well. He fought with the Turks in the sea during the Russian-Turkish War. Then, he continued his military career on land. At the age of 38, he became General and at 40 – the Chief Inspector of the military schools.
But most of all, Konstantin Konstantinovich gained glory in the field of literature. Under the nickname of “K.R.” he issued a few poem collections, translated Shakespeare and other classics, wrote plays, played in the theater himself, headed the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences.
The large Marble Palace contained the whole big family of Konstantin Konstantinovich. Each time, when his wife expected a child, the Grand Prince put on a white coat. And, we can guess, the coat finally worn out – the Grand Prince had, as many as, nine children.
His son Oleg became the only representative of the Romanov’s dynasty, who was killed during the World War I. Konstantin Konstantinovich outlived him just for a half-year. In the summer of 1918, three other sons of the Grand Prince – Ioann, Konstantin and Igor, were thrown alive by Bolsheviks to a mine in the city of Alapaevsk. Later, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized all of the three brothers.
During the centuries of Empire St. Petersburg was a grand city with ceremonial buildings, rich and pompous palaces. Even today St. Petersburg can boast a huge number of palaces, including some of the grandest residences not just in Russia, but in the whole of Europe.
Our audio guide will take you to the most famous palaces and Grand residences of St. Petersburg. We can start with the Tauride Palace and Garden, one of the largest and most historic complexes in Russia. This palace was designed for Grigory Potemkin in a rigorous Palladian style. In the 19th century, the palace was transformed into a residence for minor royalty. It had been used to host balls and exhibitions until 1906, when it was given as a seat of the first Russian parliament, the Imperial State Duma.
You will also hear the history of the Winter Palace, the most prominent palace in Russia. The Winter Palace not only physically dominates Palace Square and the south embankment of the Neva River, but also plays a central political, symbolic, and cultural role in the three-century history of the city. It was declared part of the State Hermitage Museum on 17 October 1917. Now the Winter Palace, the Hermitage and all historical landmarks of St. Petersburg are enlisted by the UNESCO.
Another famous building is Anichkov Palace located next to Anichkov Bridge across the Fontanka River. It’s one of the oldest buildings on Nevsky Prospect commissioned by Empress Elizabeth in 1741. When the palace was completed she presented it to Aleksey Razumovsky, her favourite and unofficial spouse.
Mariinsky Palace, the last neoclassical imperial palace to be constructed in Saint Petersburg, was built between 1839 and 1844 by the court architect Andrei Stackensneider. The palace stands on the south side of St Isaac's Square, just across the 99-metre-wide Blue Bridge from Saint Isaac's Cathedral. The palace was conceived by Emperor Nicholas I as a wedding present to his daughter Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna.
During the tour you will also see the houses and mansions of famous court and military people: The House of Saltykov, The Marble Palace, The Vladimir Palace, The Mikhailovsky Castle, The Novo-Mikhailovsky Palace, The House of Gagarin, etc. Each building has its own history sometimes dramatic.
Take a walk in the Summer Garden. It was founded in 1704 by order of Peter the Great, who was personally involved in planning it, and is laid out according to strict geometrical principles. The Summer Garden is home to marble statues acquired from Europe especially for Russia's new capital, and also to rare flowers and plants, as well as fountains.
The Field of Mars, not far from the Summer Garden, has a long and varied history dating back to the very beginning of the city's history. You will listen to it while walking. To your attention will also be the stories and legends of The First Engineer Bridge, The Salt City, The Building of Senate and Synod, The Isakievsky Cathedral, The Petropavlovsk Fortress.
With audio visual materials you will also get a map that won’t let you lose your way.