40 Views Inside the Winter Palace of Imperial Russia

From here, the Tsar ruled 1/6th of the earth’s landmass and over 125 million people.

During the 18th century, a marked change occurred in European royal architecture. The need for austere fortified residences subsided and a period of building great classical palaces began.

The present palace is the fourth iteration, the first being the brainchild of Peter the Great. Like many European sovereigns, he was inspired by Louis XIV’s Versailles, and wanted to build a modern city with palaces that followed western fashions.

Peter the Great’s aspirations for the Winter Palace were not to rival Versailles in size or splendor—that honor would fall to the Peterhof Palace—but to build a modest palace that reflected enlightened thinking.

The same, however, could not be said for his successors, who went about enlarging the palace and, when Anna Ivanovna came to power in 1730, she moved into the neighboring Apraksin Palace, which forms the core of the present Winter Palace.

From 1762, Catherine the Great put her mark on the palace by building the three large adjoining palaces, known collectively as the Hermitage. As an avid collector of art, Catherine needed the extra space, and amassed such an extensive art collection that to this day, it is the largest in the world.

But it was Tsar Nicholas I who, following a great fire that raged for three days in 1837, was largely responsible for the present day appearance and layout of the Winter Palace—just one part of the huge Hermitage Museum complex.

Aerial view of Winter Palace with Palace Square and surrounding buildings for comparison
Aerial view of Winter Palace with Palace Square and surrounding buildings for comparison

Comprising 1500 rooms, 117 staircases, 1,945 windows and 1,786 doors, the principal façade of this green-and-white baroque palace is twice as long as Buckingham Palace’s public façade (shown superimposed).

Buckingham Palace superimposed onto the Winter Palace
Buckingham Palace superimposed onto the Winter Palace

Join us as we take a tour of the Winter Palace of the 19th century, complete with it exquisite baroque Rococo-inspired rooms.

Jordan staircase, 1865
Jordan staircase, 1865
The Malachite Room, 1864
The Malachite Room, 1864
The Guardroom, 1863
The Guardroom, 1863
The Grand Church, 1860
The Grand Church, 1860
The Field Marshal's Hall, 1851
The Field Marshal’s Hall, 1851
The Drawing-Room, 1871
The Drawing-Room, 1871
The Cathedral inside the palace, 1865
The Cathedral inside the palace, 1865
The Boudoir of Grand Princess Maria Alexandrovna, 1850
The Boudoir of Grand Princess Maria Alexandrovna, 1850
The Boudoir of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, 1861
The Boudoir of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, 1861
The Boudoir of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1870
The Boudoir of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1870
The Billiard Room of Emperor Alexander II, 1850
The Billiard Room of Emperor Alexander II, 1850
The Bedchamber of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1858
The Bedchamber of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1858
The Bedchamber of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1869
The Bedchamber of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1869
The Bathroom of Grand Princess Maria Alexandrovna, 1850
The Bathroom of Grand Princess Maria Alexandrovna, 1850
The Bathroom of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1869
The Bathroom of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, 1869
The Armorial Hall, 1862
The Armorial Hall, 1862
The Apollo Hall, 1861
The Apollo Hall, 1861
The Antechamber of Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich, 1860
The Antechamber of Tsesarevich Alexander Nikolayevich, 1860
The Alexander Hall, 1860
The Alexander Hall, 1860
Study, 1837
Study, 1837
RThe Crimson Cabinet, the study of Maria Alexandrovna, 1860
RThe Crimson Cabinet, the study of Maria Alexandrovna, 1860
Pompei Dinner Hall, 1873
Pompei Dinner Hall, 1873
Peter the Great (Small Throne) Room, 1862
Peter the Great (Small Throne) Room, 1862
Mil-gallery by Hau, 1861
Mil-gallery by Hau, 1861
Interiors of the Winter Palace. Nichlas Hall, 1866
Interiors of the Winter Palace. Nichlas Hall, 1866
His Majesty Own staircase (October Staircase), 1860
His Majesty Own staircase (October Staircase), 1860
Hermitage Library by Alexey Tyranov, 1827
Hermitage Library by Alexey Tyranov, 1827
Golden Drawing Room, 1860
Golden Drawing Room, 1860
Galereja, 1812
Galereja, 1812
Concerthall, 1860
Concerthall, 1860
Classroom, 1836
Classroom, 1836
Avantsalle, 1860
Avantsalle, 1860
Armorial Hall of the Winter Palace by A.Ladurner, 1834
Armorial Hall of the Winter Palace by A.Ladurner, 1834
The Fieldmarshals' Hall in the Winter Palace
The Fieldmarshals’ Hall in the Winter Palace
The Winter Garden, 1870
The Winter Garden, 1870
The White Hall, 1864
The White Hall, 1864
The white drawing room in the North-Western Risolite (Alexandra Fedorovna suite), 1860
The white drawing room in the North-Western Risolite (Alexandra Fedorovna suite), 1860
The Throne Room of Empress Maria Fiodorovna, 1831
The Throne Room of Empress Maria Fiodorovna, 1831
The Small Church inside the palace, 1861
The Small Church inside the palace, 1861
The Rotunda, 1833
The Rotunda, 1833

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