Winter Palace

Winter Palace: Architecture and Interiors of the Former Royal Residence

Short description

The Winter Palace is one of the main landmarks of St. Petersburg, the former imperial residence. Today anyone can visit the monument of history and architecture. The building in the city centre is part of the State Hermitage Museum Complex.

The Winter Palace was the official residence of the Russian Emperors from 1732 to 1917


The history of the building begins with the reign of Peter I. The first building of the Winter Palace appeared by the tsar decree in 1711.

Today, the palace and its precincts form the Hermitage Museum

By his order, a two-storey house appeared between Millionnaya Street and the Neva River. As a gift for the marriage of Peter to Ekaterina, Count Menshikov ordered to rebuild the wooden building. By 1712, the stone building of wedding chambers was built in the same place.

The construction of the new building of the Winter Palace began in 1716 under the direction of the architect Mattarnovi. The construction was completed in four years, and the royal family could live in the palace in winter. Due to the purpose of the palace, the name Winter was fixed to him.

The Armorial Hall was designed by Vasily Stasov in the late 1830s. Today, as part of the State Hermitage Museum, this room retains its original decoration.

In the 30s of XVIII, the residence was rebuilt according to the project of Rastrelli. The building site had been increased, and the building changed significantly. The new building has 4 facades. There were 100 bedrooms and 70 main halls in the palace.

The fourth building of the palace was temporary and was used during the construction of the main royal residence. The building between the river Moika and Nevsky Prospect existed for seven years.

The formation of the modern Winter Palace began during the reign of Russian Empress Elizabeth

The best architects of the country were engaged in the creation of the royal residence:

  • Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli
  • Antonio Rinaldi
  • Georg Friedrich Veldten
  • Jean-Baptiste Michel Vallin de la Mothe
  • Ivan Betskoy
The Small Throne Room also is known as the Peter the Great Memorial Hall

Starov and Quarenghi were engaged in decorating the living area of 60,000 m2. In total, the palace has 1084 rooms. The most famous ceremonial halls of the former imperial residence:

  • Great Throne Room
  • Field Marshals’ Hall
  • Small Throne Room
  • Armorial Hall
  • Military Gallery
  • Alexander Hall
  • White Hall
  • Gold Drawing Room
  • Raspberry cabinet
  • Boudoir
  • Blue bedroom
  • Concert hall
  • Nicholas Hall

Most of the interiors couldn’t be preserved to this day.

In the winter of 1837, the Winter Palace engulfed fire. The fire couldn’t be put out for three days. During this time, it almost destroyed all the interior decoration, a large amount of furniture and paintings was lost. Restoration work lasted three years.

The history of the Winter Palace was eventful. He repeatedly became a participant of important events in the life of the country:

  1. 1880 – an attempt on the life of Emperor Alexander II, an explosion during a terrorist act
  2. 1905 – execution of a peaceful demonstration
  3. 1917 – the storming of the palace, which marked the beginning of the revolution
  4. Since the first half of the 20th century, halls are used to store the museum collection.
The Alexander Hall was created following the fire of 1837 by Alexander Briullov. Decorated in an unusual Gothicised version of classicism, the walls contain twenty-four medallions commemorating Russia’s victory over the French.


The construction of the fifth Winter Palace, one of the main decorations of the city on the Neva, began in 1754. The project was developed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli, the architect created the dominant feature of the central area of the city.

The architect designed each facade taking into account the surroundings.

The length of the building on the facade differs:

  • From the Neva – 210 m
  • From the side of the Admiralty building – 175 m

For the construction of an outstanding monument in the Baroque style for the first time the scheme of the house-block. The building consists of four massive buildings, interconnected buildings-galleries.

Each facade is divided into two parts horizontally. The lower part consists of a basement and ground floor, decorated with columns of the Ionic order. The upper part of the facades is decorated with columns of a more magnificent order, which emphasizes the importance of the last floors.

The silhouette of the building is complicated by statues and vases installed on the roof balustrade.

The total area of the palace premises is 60 thousand m².

Inside decoration

Because of the fire of 1837, the interior of the Winter Palace wasn’t preserved. Bearing walls and ground floor gallery survived. The main ceremonial halls retained their original style.

The Military Gallery is a setting for 332 portraits of generals who took part in the Patriotic War of 1812

The military gallery of the Winter Palace was extended, arches disappeared. Personal chambers of ruling persons have changed significantly. The emphasis was on functionality. Various techniques were used in the creation of the interior:

  • Gothic
  • Neo-Greek style
  • Neo-renaissance

The restoration work lasted only two years, the opening took place in 1839.


In the autumn of 1917, the residence of the Romanovs received the status of a museum. The building is included in the ensemble of a large museum complex Hermitage.

Over 4 million tourists come to explore
a collection of paintings and decorative objects every year.

Regular excursion programs take place within the walls of the Winter Palace. Single visitors can take a sightseeing tour of the main museum complex on any day, except Monday. Guests can choose:

  • Author’s thematic programs for adults or for parents with children
  • Thematic Excursions
The Tent Roofed Hall of the Winter Palace

Modern technologies allow you to explore the halls of the Winter Palace, without leaving the walls of your own home. There is a special Virtual Tour program on the official website of the State Hermitage Museum. Anyone can see the interiors of the former imperial residence.

Opening hours in 2020

  • Monday: day-off
  • Tuesday: 10.30 a.m – 6.30 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10.30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10.30 a.m – 6 p.m.
  • Friday: 10.20 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10.30 a.m – 6.30 p.m

Ticket costs in 2020

If you do not plan anything extravagant, including the visit of the General Staff – buy a ticket for 300 rubles online or in the General Staff building and go straight to the Hermitage right from Friday morning or Wednesday.

Information about tickets and opening hours is taken from the official site of the Hermitage Museum:

If you have any questions about online tickets, please contact our Customer Service –

The Hemitage Museum is the second-largest art museum in the world


Tours last 3 hours, but you can book a more or less long visit. A tour to the Winter Palace can be combined with a visit to the exposition in the General Staff Building. You can also book a 1-day tour and visite not just Winter Palace but other royal residences of Russian emperors.


Visit the Winter Palace


Palace Embankment, 32

Admiralteyskaya, Nevsky Prospect

Getting here

Leaving the Admiralty Station, turn left, then turn right through Nevsky Prospect and the Triumphal arch to the Palace square.


plan of the navigation of the hermitage

Interesting facts

  • During its history, the Winter Palace managed to visit the imperial residence, the military hospital, the meeting place of the Provisional Government and became one of the five main buildings of the State Hermitage Museum Complex.
  • There were 12 bomb shelters in the former royal residence during World War II.
  • The building was seriously damaged during the hostilities; 17 shells and 2 aerial bombs hit the building. After the war, the palace was restored. The work lasted only 1.5 years.

Today, about 50 cats officially work within the walls of the Hermitage. Unusual employees cherish priceless artefacts from rats and mice. A holiday for animals officially arranges on the first of April.


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