Alexander Palace
Overview
 
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that overthrew the Romanov dynasty in early 1917. The Alexander Palace is situated in the Alexander Park, not far from the larger Catherine Palace
Catherine Palace
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo , 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.- History :...

. Today it is undergoing renovation as a museum housing relics of the former imperial dynasty.
The Alexander Palace was constructed in the Imperial retreat of Tsarskoe Selo.

It was commissioned by Catherine the Great for her favorite grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, the future emperor Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 on the occasion of his marriage to Grand Duchess Elizaveeta Alexeevna, born Princess Luise Marie Augusta of Baden.

The Neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 edifice was planned by Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi was the foremost and most prolific practitioner of Palladian architecture in Imperial Russia, particularly in Saint Petersburg.- Career in Italy :...

 and built between 1792 and 1796.
Encyclopedia
The Alexander Palace is a former imperial residence at Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo
Tsarskoye Selo is the town containing a former Russian residence of the imperial family and visiting nobility, located south from the center of St. Petersburg. It is now part of the town of Pushkin and of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.-History:In...

, on a plateau around 30 minutes by train from St Petersburg. It is known as the favourite residence of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

, and his family and their initial place of imprisonment after the revolution that overthrew the Romanov dynasty in early 1917. The Alexander Palace is situated in the Alexander Park, not far from the larger Catherine Palace
Catherine Palace
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo , 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.- History :...

. Today it is undergoing renovation as a museum housing relics of the former imperial dynasty.

Construction during the reign of Catherine the Great

The Alexander Palace was constructed in the Imperial retreat of Tsarskoe Selo.

It was commissioned by Catherine the Great for her favorite grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, the future emperor Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

 on the occasion of his marriage to Grand Duchess Elizaveeta Alexeevna, born Princess Luise Marie Augusta of Baden.

The Neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 edifice was planned by Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi
Giacomo Quarenghi was the foremost and most prolific practitioner of Palladian architecture in Imperial Russia, particularly in Saint Petersburg.- Career in Italy :...

 and built between 1792 and 1796. It was agreed that the architect had excelled himself in creating a masterpiece. In 1821, a quarter of a century later, the architect's son wrote:

Home of Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich and Grand Duchess Elizaveeta Alexeevna

Alexander used the palace as a summer residence through the remainder of his grandmother's and his father, Paul's, reign. When he became emperor, however, he chose to reside in the much larger nearby Catherine Palace
Catherine Palace
The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo , 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.- History :...

.

Under Nicholas I

Alexander I gave the palace to his brother, the future Nicholas I
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

, for summer usage. From that time on, it was the summer residence of the heir to the throne. From 1830–1850, extensive redecoration was carried out according to designs by D.Cerfolio, A.Thon, D.Yefimov, A.Stakenschneider and others in keeping with rapidly changing tastes. The appearance of the formal and private rooms of the palace during Nicholas' reign can be seen in exquisite watercolors by E. Hau, I. Premazzi and I. Volsky from 1840-1860. The famous Mountain Hall which had a large slide built in for the children of Nicholas I was built during this time. Nicholas I and his family lived in the palace from the early spring till the end of May and after a short period at Krasnoye Selo
Krasnoye Selo
Krasnoye Selo is a municipal town in Krasnoselsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia. It is located south-southeast of the city center. Population:...

 during manoeuvres returned to the palace to spend their time there until the late autumn. In 1842, the Imperial couple celebrated their silver wedding anniversary with a series of galas including a medieval jousting tournament. Two years later, the family mourned the death of Nicholas's daughter Grand Duchess Alexandra (1825–1844), who was born at the palace and lived the last few months of her life there. On October 19, 1860, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna also died at the palace.

Under Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna

Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 and his Danish born wife Maria Feodorovna had their apartments in the right-hand or western wing of the palace near the gardens. Before their accession to the imperial throne, Maria gave birth to their eldest child, the future Nicholas II, at the Alexander Palace. In his diary, the then Tsarevich Alexander recorded the momentous event of the birth of his first child,



The entire imperial family was present at the birth of Alexander and Maria’s first child. In a letter to her mother, Queen Louise, the Tsarevna wrote,



After Alexander III's death, Maria Feodorovna would stay at the palace in their rooms while visiting her son and daughter-in-law. As the estrangement with Alexandra Feodorovna became more apparent, the visits of the Dowager Empress became fewer.

Under Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna

The palace is most famous though for the role it played in the reign of the last tsar, Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

. He and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna always loved the palace and decided to make it their permanent residence after the Bloody Sunday
Bloody Sunday (1905)
Bloody Sunday was a massacre on in St. Petersburg, Russia, where unarmed, peaceful demonstrators marching to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II were gunned down by the Imperial Guard while approaching the city center and the Winter Palace from several gathering points. The shooting did not...

 which made the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

 dangerous for them. They remodeled the former two-storey ballroom into the Maple Room and the New Study and added rooms for their children on the floor above. To the horror of the court, Alexandra, and her architect Meltzer, chose a then-modern style of decoration, Jugendstil or Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

, considered by the aristocracy to be "middle class" and less than "Imperial". One of these most famous rooms is Alexandra's Mauve Room .

During the reign of Nicholas II, the palace was wired for electricity and equipped with a telephone system. In 1899, a hydraulic lift was installed connecting the Empress' suite with the children's rooms on the second floor. Furthermore with the advent of motion pictures, a screening booth was built in the Semicircular Hall to show films.

During the stormy years of war and revolution, the monumental walls of the Alexander Palace sheltered the Imperial Family from the outside world. Pierre Gilliard
Pierre Gilliard
Pierre Gilliard was a Swiss academic, who was French language tutor to the five children of Tsar Nicholas II from 1905 to 1918. Years after the Imperial Family was assassinated by the Bolsheviks in July 1918, Gilliard wrote a book Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, about his time with the family...

, tutor to Nicholas II's son, had free access to this inner sanctum. In his memoirs, the tutor later described that the family life at Tsarskoe Selo was less formal than at other residences. Apart from a few exceptions, the court did not reside at the palace. The Imperial Family would gather informally around the table at mealtimes without attendants, unless relatives were visiting. This idyllic world was watched over by the sad and prophetic smile of Queen Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

 of France, portrayed with her children in a tapestry in the Corner Room. This had been a gift from the French President Émile Loubet
Émile Loubet
Émile François Loubet was a French politician and the 8th President of France.-Early life:He was born the son of a peasant proprietor and mayor of Marsanne . Admitted to the Parisian bar in 1862, he took his doctorate in law the next year...

 during his visit to Russia in 1902.

Romanovs under House Arrest

Nicholas II abdicated the throne of Russia on March 2, 1917. Thirteen days later, he returned to the Alexander Palace not as Emperor of Russia, but as Colonel Romanov. The Imperial Family were now held under house arrest and confined to a few rooms of the palace and watched over by a guard with fixed bayonets. The regime of their captivity, worked out by Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 himself, envisaged strict limitations in the life of the Imperial Family - an isolation from the outer world, a guard during their promenades in the park, prohibition of any contacts and correspondence apart from approved letters. Gillard noted,

Due to an increasingly precarious situation in St. Petersburg, the leader of the provisional government, Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

 made the decision to move the Romanov Family out of the palace into internal exile in Tobolsk
Tobolsk
Tobolsk is a town in Tyumen Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tobol and Irtysh Rivers. It is a historic capital of Siberia. Population: -History:...

 in far away Siberia. There had been calls for the prisoners to be housed in the prison at the notorious Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg. To avoid this on the morning of August 1, 1917 a train took the family away. They were never to return.

After the Romanovs

Not long after the departure of the Romanovs for Siberia, a museum was established within the Alexander Palace. It operated until the beginning of the Second World War. At the beginning of the war, the most valuable furnishings were evacuated to the interior of the country. The remaining parts of the collection were hidden in the basement.

Nazi German occupation during the Second World War

During the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 German occupation, the palace was used as headquarters for the German military command. The area in front of the palace was turned into a cemetery for SS soldiers. Artistically and historically unique collections were partially destroyed. As the Nazi German forces were leaving the Soviet Union, many of the former imperial palaces were set ablaze. The Alexander Palace was spared.

After the War

After the explusion of the German forces, the palace was used as a depot for artworks coming back into the area. The neighouring Catherine Palace had been looted and mostly destroyed. For a time it was planned to restore the interiors of the Alexander Palace and to to turn it back into a museum, but this decision was reversed and the palace was handed over to the Soviet Navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

. It also functioned as an orphanage. As a result, many areas on the upper floor where the rooms of the tsar's five children had been located were destroyed.

The Alexander Palace was purposely left forgotten. Interest in the last Romanov Tsar was discouraged by the Soviet regime. As such the Alexander Palace was off limits to tourists although some of its interior decoration from the imperial past remained in the left wing. Many of its former collections still existed, but were located in other museums such as the Pavlosk Palace. The palace was seen as little more than an enhancement to the beautiful Alexander Park.

Recent History

When it appeared that the Soviet Navy intended to vacate the complex, the Alexander Palace was included in the 1996 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund is a private, international, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world through fieldwork, advocacy, grantmaking, education, and training....

 (WMF). With funding from American Express
American Express
American Express Company or AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best...

 in the same year, WMF helped with emergency renovations to the roof over the Nicholas II wing of the palace, comprising approximately one-third of the building’s total roof structure. In the summer of 1997, a permanent exhibition was opened in the left wing of the building.
The Alexander Palace is now an exhibition space dedicated to the final years of Tsarist Russia. For this new use, certain elements of the Reception Room, Nicholas II's New Study and Alexandra Feodorovna's Drawing Room have been recreated and provide a backdrop for exhibitions of historical costumes, weapons and objects of applied art. The portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna has been returned to its original position. In Nicholas II's study, where the working environment of the last Russian emperor has been recreated, hangs a portrait of Alexander III painted by the Russian artist Valentin Serov
Valentin Serov
Valentin Alexandrovich Serov was a Russian painter, and one of the premier portrait artists of his era.-Youth and education:...

. In another section of the palace, visitors can see clothing once worn by the last imperial family of Russia and uniforms related to the court of Tsar Nicholas II. Restoration is ongoing. Recently more rooms have been brought back to their former glory with furniture and artworks returned to their original positions from other museums.

See also

  • Chinese Village
    Chinese Village (Tsarskoe Selo)
    The Chinese Village in the Alexander Park of Tsarskoye Selo, Russia was Catherine the Great's attempt to follow the 18th-century fashion for the Chinoiserie....

     - a piece of Chinoiserie
    Chinoiserie
    Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", and pronounced ) refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences...

     in the Alexander Palace Park
  • Catherine Palace
    Catherine Palace
    The Catherine Palace was the Rococo summer residence of the Russian tsars, located in the town of Tsarskoye Selo , 25 km south-east of St. Petersburg, Russia.- History :...

     - another palace in Tsarskoe Selo
  • Gatchina
    Gatchina
    Gatchina is a town and the administrative center of Gatchinsky District of Leningrad Oblast, Russia, located south of St. Petersburg by the road leading to Pskov...

     - summer residence of Nicholas II's parents
  • Pavlovsk
    Pavlovsk Palace
    Pavlovsk Palace is an 18th-century Russian Imperial residence built by Paul I of Russia near Saint Petersburg. After his death, it became the home of his widow, Maria Feodorovna...

    - palace of Paul I and his wife Maria Feodorovna

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK