The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is inferior in popularity and scale to the Hermitage or St. Isaac's Cathedral. However, the aristocratic mansion of the 19th century was the subject of admiration for contemporaries and the center of the social life of the pre-revolutionary city.
Even today, the palace deserves attention not only from an architectural point of view - in addition to excursions to perfectly preserved halls, concert and entertainment events await guests.
At the beginning of the 18th century, plots along the Fontanka embankment were actively transferred to representatives of noble families close to the court.
Then the first owner of the site where the Beloselsky palace is located today was the senator, Prince Alexei Ivanovich Shakhovskoy - the land was granted to him by Anna Ioannovna. During the reign of Catherine II, the site belonged to Senator Myatlev, and then to Senator I.A. Naryshkin. The latter built a small house there.
In 1797, Princess Anna Beloselskaya-Belozerskaya acquired the house with a plot of land near Naryshkin, or rather, the house was acquired by her husband Alexander Mikhailovich for Anna Grigorievna's dowry.
In 1799, the Beloselsky-Belozersky family demolished Naryshkin's house and built a 3-storey classicist mansion here (designed by F.I.Demertsov) with a title facade overlooking Nevsky Prospect. By the 1840s, the boundaries of the prestigious St. Petersburg center had changed, and the modest princely mansion was practically in the center of the city.
Then the son of Anna Grigorievna, Esper Beloselsky-Belozersky, decided that the modest building did not correspond to the social status of the family and in 1840 ordered the architect Stakenschneider to develop a project for a new large-scale palace.
And in 1846-1848, Stackenschneider's plan was put into practice - both facades were rebuilt (on the avenue and the embankment), and two outbuildings were added in the courtyard. All interiors have been completely redesigned in accordance with the new style of the building.
The Dane Jensen was involved in the interior and exterior decoration - he created models of sculptures of Atlanteans and caryatids (statues of women), which served as supporting columns.
Prince Esper died of typhus in 1846, when the house was at the foundation stage, all subsequent work was carried out by his wife. She herself became the wife of Prince Kochubei and moved in with her husband, but she continued to use the palace for balls and social receptions.
Then the owners of the palace were:
- Konstantin Beloselsky-Belozersky is the son of Prince Esper Beloselsky-Belozersky. Konstantin Esperovich settled in the palace with his wife in 1865. This was the heyday of the palace - it was considered the most secular place in the city, and the balls were slightly inferior in scope to the imperial ones in the Winter Palace. Alexander III and his wife often appeared at receptions; P.I. Tchaikovsky, A.G. Rubinstein, F. Liszt. However, later the financial situation of the Kochubey family deteriorated sharply, and the adoptive father of Prince Constantine was forced to pay off the state treasury with the palace;
- Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich - in 1884 the younger brother of Emperor Alexander III received the palace as a gift for a wedding with Elizabeth Feodorovna (before her christening Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt). Then the palace acquired a second name "Sergievsky". In 1894, Elisaveta Fyodorovna's younger sister, Alisa of Hesse-Darmstadt, lived here, the future empress, wife of Nicholas II. In 1905, Sergei Alexandrovich was killed in a terrorist attack by the Socialist-Revolutionary I. Kalyaev;
- Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna - after the assassination of the Grand Duke in 1905. However, she almost immediately left the palace, becoming abbess of the Martha and Mary monastery in Moscow;
- the nephew of the Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich, the favorite of the imperial family, received the palace from his aunt in 1911. After the assassination of Rasputin in 1916 (in which Dmitry Pavlovich participated), the prince was for some time in the palace under arrest, and then was expelled from the country. There is information (not confirmed by documents) that, while in exile, Dmitry Pavlovich sold the palace to a large industrial monopolist Ivan Stakheev.
Since 1916, the Palace housed:
- An Anglo-Russian hospital opened by the British Red Cross under the auspices of the Empress. During the First World War (from 1916 to 1918), about 6 thousand Russian soldiers passed through the hospital;
- Regional Committee of the Komsomol and the Communist Party - since 1920. At the same time, the nationalization of the palace took place earlier - in 1917, at the same time part of the interiors was lost, and the prince's collection of paintings was transferred to the Hermitage. In addition to the district committees, the premises in the palace were leased to various organizations - the Autopark, the Finishing Works Trust, and the fire-fighting automation bureau were located here. During the blockade, the building was badly damaged, after the war, restoration was carried out here, in particular, in 1949-1954, external restoration work was actively carried out. The interiors were restored until 1988, and until 1980 the work was supervised by I.N. Benois is one of the leading figures of the St. Petersburg school of restorers;
- state cultural institution "Petersburg Cultural Center" - since 1992, after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Excursion activities are organized in the palace for the first time, the Committee for Tourism and the City Tourist Information Center are located in the premises. The symphony orchestra again begins to perform in the palace. In 2001-2002, the restoration of the palace facades was carried out;
- Historical Museum of Wax Figures - from 1995 to 2004;
- Department of Presidential Affairs - since 2003. This period was marked by increased attention to the preservation of the object - by 2015, a cycle of large-scale restoration work was completed. In 2012, a fire broke out in the palace, but the furnishings and exhibits were not damaged. The premises of the palace also house the State Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg, the city branch of the First Channel, the Museum of Democracy. Sobchak.
The palace today is luxurious interiors and a rich cultural and social life: concerts, performances, conferences.
The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace in its first version was built in 1800, but it acquired its present appearance only 50 years later.
The palace architect Andrei Ivanovich Stakenschneider, professor of the Academy of Arts by 1846 could already call himself “one of the court architects”, being the author of a number of buildings designed for representatives of the imperial family, among his famous works:
- suburban residence of the Leuchtenberg;
- Mariinsky Palace;
- Farmer's palace.
Stackenschneider loved and knew how to work in an eclectic manner, masterfully combining several different architectural styles.
There is an opinion that the prototype of the palace was the Stroganov Palace of the architect F.B. Rastrelli is an example of Russian baroque of the 18th century. It was this "Rastrelli" baroque that was strongly associated with palaces in those days. At the same time, the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is the first baroque stylization in St. Petersburg, the so-called neo-baroque of the 19th century or the “second baroque”.
In its appearance, you can notice the typical features of the Baroque:
- arched windows on the second floor with a figured stucco frame;
- sculptures of Atlanteans holding columns and balconies with openwork forged lattices. The facade of the building is decorated with 16 atlantes, of which 6 look at the Fontanka, 8 look at Nevsky Prospekt, and 2 (at the corner of the building) look at the Anichkov Bridge;
- unusual from the point of view of rhythm, the arrangement of three quarter columns (protruding from the plane of the wall by ¾ of the diameter) columns of the Corinthian order;
- circular gables - parts of the facade, bounded by the roof slopes on the sides and the cornice from below, are not in the form of a semicircle, but arcs of a larger radius;
- rusticated first tier - using facing to create the illusion of breaking the walls into horizontal stripes;
- decorative two-tone color scheme of the facades - the pink base sets off the snow-white decor.
However, the palace is not typical for the picturesque nature of the Italian Baroque, its lines are rather graphic, and the details are more fractional (which is a feature of the eclectic style).
Among the main differences of the palace from the classic "Stroganov" baroque:
- A complex plan of interior spaces and courtyards - the Beloselsky Palace from an architectural point of view resembles an apartment building, the rooms of which are grouped around corridors. For ease of communication, the architect provided for an intricate system of additional stairs;
- the facades overlooking the courtyard are devoid of any decorations - these are modest wall decorations and wooden platbands (at the Stroganov Palace, ceremonial decoration is present everywhere). The courtyards themselves - "clean" and "black" - are relatively small;
- the difference in the number of storeys - from the side of the courtyard near the building there are 3 floors, and from the side of Nevsky Prospekt - only 2.
After the palace was erected, contemporaries claimed that the architect had accomplished an "artistic feat" and characterized Stackenschneider as the successor of Rastrelli's traditions.
In the middle of the 19th century, after the construction of the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, neo-baroque became a fashionable style in St. Petersburg. Customers demand atlantes and columns from architects, not skimping on expenses, however, after the palace, buildings of a similar scale did not appear in the city on the Neva.
Interiors and interior decoration
The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace was called one of the most magnificent private houses in St. Petersburg - in terms of the beauty of architecture and interiors. In terms of the richness of interior decoration, the building could compete with some imperial palaces.
The advantage of the palace against the background of many buildings of that time is the unity of the style solution of architecture and interiors. The interior decoration is dominated by Baroque and Rococo - elements of the latter style are especially noticeable in the decoration of the front rooms, the staircase and the concert (Mirror) hall.
Only after entering the palace, guests can see the most beautiful front staircase, decorated with openwork wrought iron railings with the monograms of the first owners of the house and candelabra.
Also used in the decor of the building:
- various types of stucco molding - wall and ceiling;
- built-in sculptures-caryatids - figures of women "supporting" the ceiling;
- patterned parquet floors and carved wood paneling;
- mirrors and stained-glass windows;
- marble finishing;
- picturesque interior decorations - in the palace you can see French paintings of the 18th century.
The interiors, which have been perfectly preserved to this day, are of artistic value and of interest to visitors.
Halls of the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace
The unique appearance of the palace is made up of the unique design features of its various halls. A brief overview of the premises of the palace can be presented in the form of a table:
|Front dining room and front living room (with a foyer)||Opens a gallery of ceremonial halls on the second floor of the building along Nevsky Prospekt (after climbing the stairs). The gray-green walls of the dining room are set off by white stucco and paintings on the walls.|
|Mirror Hall||It can rightly be called the "heart" of the palace. The rococo-style room is divided into a stage and seats for spectators (about 400 seats). The hall owes its name to three mirrors located on the left (from the entrance side) wall. Mirrors are made of solid silver plates. 3 windows on the right side overlook Nevsky Prospekt and exactly repeat the shape of the mirrors. It is here that concerts and performances are held.|
|Picture gallery||It follows the front dining room, communicating with the Oak and Mirror Halls. Until 1917, it housed a collection of paintings by the Beloselsky princes, today the walls are decorated with only a few paintings, and the gallery itself has been transformed into a theatrical foyer adjacent to the concert hall (Mirror Hall).|
|Oak Hall (library)||The main decoration of this room is solid wood panels with built-in bookcases. The hall has a second tier with carved railings and a small balcony. The hall is distinguished by a ceiling decoration - it is a plaster "lace" in the form of a grid. The "highlight" of the room is a carved marble fireplace, above which there is a mirror in a gilded frame with a picturesque fragment in the center. Today, here you can see photos of the owners of the building, as well as get acquainted with the history of the palace.|
|Beige (White) and Crimson living room||A series of rooms with windows overlooking the Fontanka are opened. Here guests can admire the Rococo style interiors with luxurious chandeliers, decorative upholstery and furnishings. Now both premises belong to the St. Petersburg branch of ZAO First Channel, so photography and filming are not allowed here.|
|Green living room with foyer||Here, in addition to luxurious interiors, you can see the panel "The Feast of Venus" and the furniture of the F. Melzer factory.|
Among the rooms on the ground floor, special attention should be paid to the reception, study and dining room.
You can order tickets for the sightseeing tour on the official website of the palace.
During the tour, guests of the palace can:
- walk through the ceremonial halls;
- learn about the history of the palace and its owners;
- get acquainted with the photo exposition dedicated to the Red Cross hospital, located here in 1916-1918.
Also on the website you can find out about the temporary exhibitions located in the palace.
Even during the time of the first owner Konstantin Beloselsky-Belozersky, the palace was famous not only for balls, but also for music festivals. F. Liszt and A. Rubinstein performed in the Hall of Mirrors, and P.I. Tchaikovsky. 1991 saw the revival of the rich musical traditions of the palace.
The amazingly beautiful interiors and atmosphere of the palace can enhance the impression of music or theatrical performance. The poster of the events taking place in the courtyard can be viewed on the official website of the palace.
Among the ongoing events:
- concerts - symphonic, chamber, jazz;
The palace often hosts festivals and conferences. Ticket prices range from 400 to 2000 rubles.
Museum of the Establishment of Democracy in Modern Russia. Anatoly Sobchak
The museum occupies 5 palace rooms on the left side of the stairs. The subject of the exposition is samples of agitation, political newspapers and leaflets. Also here you can see a photo chronicle of key political events in Russia in the 90s of the 20th century.
You can visit the museum on weekdays, daily until 15.00. Free admission.
You can make an application for a sightseeing tour any day from 11.00 to 19.00, but excursions are held at 13.00 or 14.00, not every day. This is due to the fact that events or preparations for them are often held in the palace. Events usually start at 16.00 or 19.00.
Legends and myths
The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is undoubtedly not covered with such an abundance of legends, scandals and superstitions, like a number of other iconic sights of St. Petersburg.
In the same time:
- The area of intersection of the avenue and the Fontanka, where the palace is located, has long acquired a mysterious reputation as a "district of twins". It is believed that here you can see your second "I", testifying to imminent death. At different times, the Empress Anna Ioannovna and the poet Pyotr Vyazemsky collided with doubles near this place.
- During the time of Konstantin Beloselsky-Belozersky, Alexander III and his wife often attended balls here. Maria Feodorovna loved to dance in the palace. It is said that, wishing to finish the ball, the emperor summoned one of the musicians from the orchestra that was playing at the ball. Soon it turned out that there was no one to play - then the emperor could convince his wife to leave the palace.
- The sculptor Jensen, who worked on the palace Atlanteans and Caryatids, had a very peculiar idea of the "weight" of their "burden". The figures of the statues - "men" express an amazing tension, at the same time, the female statues (caryatids), it would seem, do not feel heaviness at all - their faces are light and calm.
The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is a place where you can touch the luxury and social life of St. Petersburg in the 19th century. Magnificent interiors, as in the 19th century, delight visitors, and the Hall of Mirrors with excellent acoustics is once again the venue for spectacular events.
And the amazing atmosphere makes both an ordinary excursion and a performance or concert doubly memorable.
The Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace is located in the Central District of St. Petersburg, at the point where Nevsky Prospekt crosses the embankment of the Fontanka River. The address of the palace is Nevsky Prospekt, 41 / Embankment of the Fontanka River, 42. Crossing the river along the Anichkov Bridge, you can see another famous attraction - the Anichkov Palace (Nevsky Prospekt, 39).
The easiest way is to use the St. Petersburg metro. It will take 5 minutes to walk from Gostiny Dvor station along Nevsky Prospekt, past Ostrovsky Square and Anichkov Palace. Then it remains only to cross the Anichkov Bridge to the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace.
From the next Mayakovskaya station, the journey along Nevsky Prospekt will take the same amount of time - the only difference is that you need to move not forward, but back. From the station "Vladimirskaya" you will have to walk a little longer - first along the street. Bolshaya Moskovskaya, then along Vladimirsky Prospekt and further along Nevsky Prospekt. The path from the Dostoevskaya station lies along Vladimirsky and Nevsky prospects.
The nearest public transport stops are Liteiny Prospekt and the House of Youth Creativity, you can get to them:
- by bus # 3, 7, 22, 24, 27;
- trolleybus No. 1, 5, 7, 10, 11, 22.