Marble Palace, Palaces of Saint-Petersburg
The palace was built on a truly royal scale. The idea of its erection belonged to the Empress Catherine II who wanted to give it to her favorite - Count Grigory Orlov. The imperial gift was to amaze everyone by unprecedented splendor. Therefore, Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi was invited. However, it took 17 years to finish the work. Count Orlov did not live to see the excellent creation of the master. The result was spectacular. It took 32 diverse varieties of marble to build the masterpiece! In combination with granite marble gave the palace extraordinary originality, elegance and grace. Marble Palace in St. Petersburg became the first building, whose facades were faced with natural stone. The enthralled contemporaries called the Palace «Marble». The facades of the palace consist as if of two beautiful levels: above the granite-faced base pilasters of light pink marble link the two stories. The main entrance is decorated with sculptures. The palace amazed its contemporaries for its rich decoration and luxurious interiors. Unfortunately the former greatness left little trace. But The Grand Staircase and the Marble Hall managed to retain their beauty. The Grand Staircase is finished with gray marble from the Urals; its steps are made of dark green sandstone. The interior of the Marble Hall is beautiful with staggering diversity of colors, pomp and luxury, and ideally treated marble. The hall’s beauty is added by exquisite bas-reliefs.
For a long time the palace was the residence of Russian princes. Catherine II gave it to her grandson Constantine Pavlovich. After him the palace was owned by other Romanovs. During the Soviet era the Marble Palace hosted the Lenin Museum. In 1992 the palace was given to the Russian Museum.