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The Hermitage Pavilion

One of the most picturesque buildings in the gardens at the Catherine Palace is the Hermitage Pavilion. It was built at the same time as the palace and is beautifully situated in a forest clearing. The Hermitage Pavilion proved to be a favourite place for the Tsaritsa Elizabeth and her guests. She particularly liked to show it off to foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries.

The central hall of the Hermitage was the object of particular fascination for visitors. It contained a table large enough to seat up to 35 guests. What was unique about the dining room table was that it was equipped with special mechanisms allowing the guests to dine without the presence of servants. In the lower basement, the servants would prepare the table, hoist it to the floor above where waiting guests would sit down to dinner. A diner only needed only to write the name of the dish he desired on a slate and pull the bell next to it. A short time later the chosen dish would appear at the table. Once the meal was over, the table was lowered into the floor, the chairs removed, and the dining room opened into a ballroom.

As you can see in the HDR-picture, craftsmen are laying their final hand on an ongoing renovation. Next day the Hermitage Pavilion was reopened for the public after this renovation.

This is the Hermitage Pavilion (Павильон Эрмитаж) in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south of the centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The pavilion is located in the Gardens at the Catherine Palace. The Hermitage Pavilion was built between 1748 to 1756 by the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, under the regime of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great.  The Hermitage Pavilion proved to be a favourite place for the Empress and her guests. She particularly liked to show it off to foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries.The central hall of the Hermitage was the object of particular fascination for visitors. It contained a table large enough to seat up to 35 guests. What was unique about the dining room table was that it was equipped with special mechanisms allowing the guests to dine without the presence of servants. In the lower basement, the servants would prepare the table, hoist it to the floor above where waiting guests would sit down to dinner. A diner only needed only to write the name of the dish he desired on a slate and pull the bell next to it. A short time later the chosen dish would appear at the table. Once the meal was over, the table was lowered into the floor, the chairs removed, and the dining room opened into a ballroom. Rastrelli was a technical marvel for his time.

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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in History, Photo, Pushkin, Saint Petersburg

 

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The Grand Catherine Palace

About 30 minutes, by bus, south of Saint Petersburg lies Pushkin. This city is named after the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. Before 1937 the city was named Tsarskoye Selo which literary means “The Tsar’s Village”. Here you can visit another architectural masterpiece of Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the Grand Catherine Palace. The palace was originally commissioned by Peter the Great and named after his second wife Catherine. This palace was far more modest than the one standing there now. When Peter’s and Catherine’s daughter Elizabeth become Tsaritsa, she commissioned a new palace to replace to old one, a palace on the scale to rival Versailles. Of course, she hired her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, for this job. The new palace was presented to the Tsaritsa in 1756. It’s 325 meter long and nearly 1 km in circumference, with elaborately decorated blue and white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters.

If you’re in Saint Petersburg and have a day over I really recomend a daytrip to Pushkin and the Grand Catherine Palace. You can reach Puskin by train from Vitebsk vokzal (station) or by marshrutka (minibus) from Moskovskaya ploshchad (square).

A couple of HDR-pictures I captured of the Grand Catherine Palace.

This is the Grand Catherine Palace (Большой Екатерининский Дворец)  viewed from the Catherine Park towards the church wing. The palace is located in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south of the centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia.The palace is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death. Originally a modest two storey building commissioned by Peter for Catherine in 1717, the palace owes its awesome grandeur to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who chose Tsarskoe Selo as her chief summer residence. Starting in 1743, the building was reconstructed by four different architects, before Bartholomeo Rastrelli, Chief Architect of the Imperial Court, was instructed to completely redesign the building on a scale to rival Versailles.The brand new palace was presented to the Empress in 1756. It is 325 meter long and nearly 1 km in circumference, with elaborately decorated blue and white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters designed by German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the palace's original interiors. In Elizabeth's reign it took over 100kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors, an excess that was deplored by Catherine the Great when she discovered the state and private funds that had been lavished on the building.

A closer view of Catherine Palace (Большой Екатерининский Дворец) in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south of the centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia.The palace is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death. Originally a modest two storey building commissioned by Peter for Catherine in 1717, the palace owes its awesome grandeur to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who chose Tsarskoe Selo as her chief summer residence. Starting in 1743, the building was reconstructed by four different architects, before Bartholomeo Rastrelli, Chief Architect of the Imperial Court, was instructed to completely redesign the building on a scale to rival Versailles.The brand new palace was presented to the Empress in 1756. It is 325 meter long and nearly 1 km in circumference, with elaborately decorated blue and white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters designed by German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the palace's original interiors. In Elizabeth's reign it took over 100kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors, an excess that was deplored by Catherine the Great when she discovered the state and private funds that had been lavished on the building.

A closer view of Catherine Palace (Большой Екатерининский Дворец) in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), 25 km south of the centre of Saint Petersburg, Russia.The palace is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death. Originally a modest two storey building commissioned by Peter for Catherine in 1717, the palace owes its awesome grandeur to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who chose Tsarskoe Selo as her chief summer residence. Starting in 1743, the building was reconstructed by four different architects, before Bartholomeo Rastrelli, Chief Architect of the Imperial Court, was instructed to completely redesign the building on a scale to rival Versailles.The brand new palace was presented to the Empress in 1756. It is 325 meter long and nearly 1 km in circumference, with elaborately decorated blue and white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters designed by German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the palace's original interiors. In Elizabeth's reign it took over 100kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors, an excess that was deplored by Catherine the Great when she discovered the state and private funds that had been lavished on the building.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2011 in History, Photo, Pushkin, Saint Petersburg

 

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The Winter Palace

I haven’t abandoned this blog but I need to post more frequently!

Talking about Saint Petersburg, the most well known building in Piter is without doubt the Winter Palace. This was the official residence of Russian Tsars from 1732 until the last of them, Nicholas II, abdicated in 1917. The majestic palace we today view from the Palace square is the fourth Winter Palace built. The first Winter Palace was, unlike the present version, a modest building of two main floors under a slate roof. As Piter grew the Winter Palace was replaced by bigger and more splendid versions. The present version, built in Elizabethan Baroque style, is designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and was originally commissioned by Tsaritsa Anna. But during the reign of Tsaritsa Elizabeth the original plan was changed and a new scheme to build a colossal Winter Palace was adopted. However, Rastrelli did not complete the Place before Elizabeth’s death. So it was only Tsaritsa Catherine the Great and her successors who could enjoy the magnificent Palace as their residence. Today the Winter Palace houses the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and most respected art museums in the world.

This HDR-picture of the Winter Palace towards Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya is captured just before sunset. Beautiful colours aren’t they?

A capture of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at sunset. The Winter Palace (Зимний дворец) was the official residence of the Russian Tsars from 1732 to 1917. The palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli, in what came to be known as the Elizabethan Baroque style.The Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before the palace’s completion and only Catherine the Great and her successors were able to enjoy the sumptuous interiors of Elizabeth’s home. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors have been remodelled since then, particularly after 1837, when a huge fire destroyed most of the building. Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world.

And a view from the Palace square.

A capture of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at sunset. The Winter Palace (Зимний дворец) was the official residence of the Russian Tsars from 1732 to 1917. The palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli, in what came to be known as the Elizabethan Baroque style.The Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before the palace’s completion and only Catherine the Great and her successors were able to enjoy the sumptuous interiors of Elizabeth’s home. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors have been remodelled since then, particularly after 1837, when a huge fire destroyed most of the building. Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in History, Photo, Saint Petersburg

 

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The Smolny Convent & Cathedral

Poor Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great! She had inherited her fathers brilliant intellect, fluent in four languages, was an excellent dancer and rider, and also was commonly considered to be the leading beauty of the Russian Empire. But despite all her extraordinary talents, she saw the Russian throne slip through her fingers, not once but four times! After her father’s death, the Russian throne was inherited, in order, by her mother Catherine I, her nephew Peter II, her cousin Anna, and finally Anna’s newborn grandnephew Ivan VI. Even worse, nobody of royal rank would like to mary a princess which is so out of favor as Elizabeth. The only option left for Elizabeth was to become a nun. But the daughter of Peter the Great could not live in an ordinary monastery so it was decided to construct a new Russian Orthodox monastery for nuns, the Smolny Convent. But the fate turned into Elizabeth’s favor and Ivan turned out to be the poor guy. Shortly after being crowned Russian Tsar at the age of two months, Ivan VI was overthrown by Elizabeth and spent the rest of his life imprisoned.

Elizabeth gladly seized the power and spent the last 21 years of her life as a very successful and loved Empress of Russia. She lavishly spent mony on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. In Saint Petersburg the most eye-catching monuments are the Smolny Convent and the Winter Palace which both where not compleated until after Elizabeth’s death in 1761.

The Smolny Convent & Cathedral is located in a remote part of Saint Petersburg so foreign tourist are rare here. The best way to get here is to go by bus, marshutka or taxi. There is no nearby metro station.

Today, the Smolny Cathedral is not occupied by the orthodox church and are mainly used as a concert hall. The surrounding convent buildings house various offices and government institutions.

A low perspective capture of the magnificent Smolny Cathedral.

The Smolny Cathedral (Смольный собор) in Saint Petersburg, Russia.The Smolny Convent of the Resurrection, located on Ploschad Rastrelli, on the bank of the River Neva, consists of a cathedral and a complex of buildings surrounding it. Smolny Convent was originally built to house the daughter of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, after she was disallowed to take the throne and opted instead to become a nun. However, as soon as her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI,  was overthrown during a coup, carried out by the royal guards, Elizabeth decided to forget the whole idea of a stern monastic life and happily accepted the offer of the Russian throne.Smolny Convent is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Rastrelli, who also created the Winter Palace, the Grand Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. After Elizabeth death in 1762 the new Empress, Catherine the Great, strongly disapproved of the baroque style, and funding that had supported the construction of the convent rapidly ran out. Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell-tower he had planned and unable to finish the interior of the cathedral. The building was only finished in 1835 by Vasily Stasov with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes at the time. The Cathedral was consecrated 1835.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in History, Photo, Saint Petersburg

 

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Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli

I thought I should write a short resume from a trip a I made to Russia last summer. I also want to show you some of my favorite pictures from this trip!

Where is the best place to start this trip? The answer to this question is Saint Petersburg. If you only can visit one place in Russia, then you should go to the “Venice of the North” or “Peter” as Russians call their beautiful city. “Peter” leaves a rather European than Russian impression. It’s also much younger than most other major Russian cities, founded in 1703 by Peter the Great as the new capital of his Russian Empire. Here are the churches and palaces mainly built in baroque style rather than traditional russian architectural style.

The Italian born architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli has left many impressive architectural landmarks in “Peter”. He was appointed as the senior court architect in 1730 and his works found favour with the regents of this time, the Empresses Anna Ivanovna and Elizaveta Petrovna. He combined the latest Italian architectural fashion with traditions of the Muscovite baroque style and developed an easily recognizable style of Late Baroque.

Francesco Bartolomeo has got a square named after him in Saint Petersburg, Ploschad Rastrelli (Rastrelli Square). Here you can enjoy a wonderful view of one of his architectural masterpieces, The Smolny Convet.

More about this building in my next post.

A 180 degree panorama of the Smolny Convent (Смольный монастырь) in Saint Petersburg, Russia.The Smolny Convent of the Resurrection, located on Ploschad Rastrelli, on the bank of the River Neva, consists of a cathedral and a complex of buildings surrounding it. Smolny Convent was originally built to house the daughter of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, after she was disallowed to take the throne and opted instead to become a nun. However, as soon as her Imperial predecessor, Ivan VI,  was overthrown during a coup, carried out by the royal guards, Elizabeth decided to forget the whole idea of a stern monastic life and happily accepted the offer of the Russian throne.Smolny Convent is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Rastrelli, who also created the Winter Palace, the Grand Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. After Elizabeth death in 1762 the new Empress, Catherine the Great, strongly disapproved of the baroque style, and funding that had supported the construction of the convent rapidly ran out. Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell-tower he had planned and unable to finish the interior of the cathedral. The building was only finished in 1835 by Vasily Stasov with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes at the time. The Cathedral was consecrated 1835.

This 180 degree panorama is made out of 4 HDR-pictures, in total 12 exposures (4×3).
(Later I will publish a tutorial about how I make my HDR)

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in History, Photo, Saint Petersburg

 

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