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Alexander Palace

Listed under Castles & Palaces in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Photo by flickr user zhaffsky
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The ultimate expression of a Grandmother’s love, the Alexander Palace was built by Catherine the Great for her grandson and future heir, Alexander over the course of young his life, the intention being that it would be presented to him when he reached adulthood.

Alexander was consulted during the planning as it went from its original location in St. Petersburg to a location a short distance from Catherine’s own great home, Catherine Palace and from a year round home to a Summer Palace. Much of the original furnishings came from other royal palaces. From start to finish the build took four years and Alexander moved in in 1796 at sixteen.

After Alexander’s ascention to the throne Alexander Palace was given to Nicholas I, then next in line to the throne, who made many personal changes to the palace including having several satellite kitchens added and replanting parts of the garden, often using his own hands. Once Nicholas became Tzar it passed to Alexander II, who’s wife, in later years, moved in permanently which required further building work. But the last major renovations took place when electricity and phone lines were installed at the end of the 1800’s for Tzar Nicholas II who also wanted Alexander Palace as a principal residence. Alexander Palace was thus the last home of the Imperial family.

After the Romanovs were exiled by the Revolution the palace was opened to the public and after their murders their personal possessions were returned to the palace to complete the collection, the idea being for it to look as if they had just left and could return at any moment. This careful preservation made the museum one of the most popular for internal and international visitors, though ran counter to the new culture which brought a disdain on the museum from the government.

The war which decimated most of Russia’s palaces was relatively kind to the Alexander Palace. As a military hospital it was looted but not damaged and many treasures were able to be removed before the Germans arrived.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s that much needed repairs and restorations were done on the palace, and though the yellow stucco of the palace is faded it has been returned to its 1917 Romanov state. Many visitors miss visiting Alexander Palace because of its proximity to the more impressive magnificence of Catherine Palace, yet for its history and its more compact grandeur it is well worth the effort, showcasing as it does the real lives of the Imperial family down to film footage of Nicholas II and Alexandra. The left wing has been best preserved and repaired and contains one of the main attractions for visitors, Tzar Nicholas II’s study.

Comprehensive Information on the Alexander Palace.

Written by  Arnesta Szarkor.

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