Mikhailovsky Castle

Mikhailovsky Castle


Address: 2 Sadovaya Street
Nearest metro stations: Gostiny Dvor/ Nevsky Prospect
Phone: +7 (812) 313-41-12
Open: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm            10.00 am – 4.00 pm (Mondays)
Closed: Tuesdays

 



The Michailovsky Castle seems to be the most romantic and mysterious building of Saint Petersburg. It was constructed in 1797-1801 by order of Paul I. Afraid of intrigues and assassinations, he didn't like the Winter Palace where he could never feel himself safe. His mother Catherine the Great overthrew her husband Peter III to gain access to the Russian Imperial throne and Paul I was afraid that he would suffer the same fate. Paul I strove to create an irreproachable shelter where he could hide from his numerous enemies and ill-wishers and make the castle as unassailable as possible. Moika River, Fontantka River and two canals surround the castle from all four sides making it resemble an old fortress a lot. The only way to get inside the castle is to add hanging bridges which used to be always raised during the night time saving castle inhabitants from unexpected visitors. 

Mikhailovsky Castle was designed by architects Vincenzo Brenna and Vasily Bajenov. All four facades of the St Michael's Castle are different. Decorated with massive marble obelisks, the southern facade was particularly expressive and monumental. A porphyry frieze hung above the entrance, proclaiming in gilded bronze letters: Your home is befitting of an object of worship for years to come.

The northern facade faces the Summer Garden which resembles an Italian villa of Renaissance times with the bronze monuments to Hercules and Flora. 

The centre of a square in front of the Castle, Connetable Square, treasures a unique monument to Peter I in the guise of a Roman emperor. The design of a statue was made by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli. 

There is hardly other place in St Petersburg with so many legends and myths around it. Paul only spent forty days in the St Michael's Castle. On the night of 11/12 March 1801 a tragic event took place when the Emperor was killed in his bedroom. Soon after the assassination of Paul I all masterpieces were removed from the castle and its front rooms became flats.

After that the Castle was given to the Central College of Engineering in the beginning of 19th century and soon after changed its name to the Engineer Castle. For over 100 years the Castle was being used to serve the needs of the college with no reference to its historical role. 

In late 20th century when the building became a branch of the Russian Musum the restoration works took place to return historical view to the interiors of the Castle. Now several exhibitions are housed in the Mikhailovsky Castle with one of its possessions, the gallery of the official portraits of Russian monarchs from Peter I to Nicolas II. 

 



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