The Stroganov Palace is one of the oldest palaces in Saint Petersburg. Its richly decorated pink facade attracts the attention of all those who wander at Nevsky Prospect. Let’s see what hides behind these walls.
Who Were the Stroganovs?
The Stroganovs were Russian merchants and industrialists, natives from Pomeranian and Novgorod peasants. They owned lands in the Perm region, engaged in salt and fur trade, and later smelting metals. They were engaged in the development of Siberia and paid for some research expeditions (like the campaign of Yermak).
Not only the Stroganovs were fabulously wealthy but they were among the better-educated people in Russia. For centuries, they collected artworks, supported talented artists and built architectural masterpieces. Knowing the Stroganovs fine taste in art, members of the imperial and aristocratic families assigned them the purchasing of the paintings and sculptures for their palaces and mansions.
What you will see in the Stroganov Palace
The Stroganov Palace was built in 1754. Back then, the palace amazed his contemporaries with luxurious decoration and the richest art collections. The Stroganovs often hosted magnificent balls and dinners for the aristocracy.
Stroganov Palace was designed by the talented architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. Rastrelli was the famous architect of Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. Rastrelli is also the author of such world-known edifices as the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo.
The fact that the Russian Empress allowed her favourite architect to work for another person, shows how important the Stroganovs were.
• The Great Hall
Look at this lavishly decorated Great Hall, for instance. I spent at least half an hour watching sculptures, parquet, windows, mirrors, ceiling…
• Arabesque Room
Following the enfilade of the rooms, we came to the colourful Arabesque Room. If you have been to the Hermitage Museum, you certainly remember the Raphael Loggias. Their decoration was inspired by the famous gallery of the Vatican Palace in Rome, painted by sketches of Raphael.
Copies of Raphael frescoes decorate the walls of the Arabesque Room in the Stroganov Palace as well. It is a rather small room that served as a study for the Stroganovs. Amazingly cosy with all these paintings, smaller copies of the Vatican sculptures, a fireplace and the daylight coming from large windows!
• Mineral Study
A few steps further — and we are in the Mineral Study.
The Mineral Study served as the library and a display of the collection of minerals of Count Alexander Stroganov. It was considered one of the masterpieces of Russian architecture of the 18th century. The room is richly decorated with columns, bas-reliefs, paintings on the cupola, and chandeliers.
Unfortunately, the books of the library and the mineral collection are lost. A part of them disappeared during the tumultuous Revolutionary times after the fall of the Russian Empire. Another part is displayed in other museums. And the Stroganov Palace has just a tiny amount of former treasures.
• Grand Living Room
Every room of the Stroganov Palace has a different style and requires attention to detail. The spacious and light Grand Living Room attracts by its fine tapestries and large mirrors on the walls.
• Picture Gallery
The Picture Gallery is one of the largest rooms of the Stroganov Palace. One wall of the room is made of windows. Thus, the gallery is always full of light. The paintings are not the only decoration of the gallery. You will also appreciate the painted ceiling, marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, and marble columns.
• Gala Dining Room
The Gala Dining Room is interesting because of its unusual design. One of the walls is made of mirrors. Look at the photo: what you see behind the columns is actually a mirror reflection of the dining room.
And yes, those mirrors, mirrors everywhere… They are hanged the way they could be an important part of the decor. Reflections elongate the enfilades, increase the space and make you feel you are Alice in a fantastical world of “Through the Looking-Glass”.
Then those chandeliers and fireplaces… Every single detail brings us to the past made of elegant interiors, talented architects and fine luxury.
An interesting fact about the Stoganov Palace:
The famous Russian dish Beef Stroganoff is named after one of the members of the Stroganov family — Russian count Alexander Stroganov (1795—1891).
Beef à la Stroganov is usually sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream). And the Stroganov Palace in St. Petersburg can be considered as the place where the recipe Beef Stroganoff was born. By the way, the Stroganovs were famous for their generosity: everyone could come and have lunch in the Stroganovs’ dining room.
The Stroganov Palace Nowadays
Until 1917, the Palace belonged to the Stroganov family. But after the revolution of 1917, the unique mansion had rather tough times of looting, neglecting and disregarding.
Nowadays the Stroganov Palace is a part of the Russian Museum. Not so long ago it was restored and opened for visitors.
If you book a guided tour of the palace, the guide will surely tell the amazing story of the restoration. The interiors and decor are collected and rebuilt literally piece by piece. And restorers and researchers are proud of every square meter of the Stroganov Palace. Thanks to their hard work, we are able to see and learn about our historical heritage.
How to Get to the Stroganov Palace
Address: 17, Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg, Russia
Nearest metro stations: Nevsky Prospect, Admiralteyskaya
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. Tuesday is a day off.
In conclusion, I would advise you to be freer while planning your sightseeing tours. Surely, in Saint Petersburg, there are must-see places that it is not possible to miss. But there are also lesser-known attractions that are still worth seeing. And the Stroganov Palace is one of them.