Winter Palace

The Winter Palace (Russian: Зимний дворец, tr. Zimnij dvorets, IPA: [ˈzʲimnʲɪj dvɐˈrʲɛts]) is a palace in Saint Petersburg that served as the official residence of the Russian Emperor from 1732 to 1917. The palace and its precincts now house the Hermitage Museum. Situated between Palace Embankment and Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt.[1] The storming of the palace in 1917, as depicted in Soviet art and in Sergei Eisenstein's 1928 film October, became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution.

The Winter Palace, from Palace Square
The Winter Palace, from Palace Embankment
The Winter Palace, from above

The emperors constructed their palaces on a monumental scale that aimed to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. From the palace, the tsars[2] ruled over 22,800,000 square kilometers (8,800,000 sq mi)[3][4] (almost 1/6 of the Earth's landmass) and 125 million subjects by the end of the 19th century. Several architects participated in designing the Winter Palace—most notably the Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700–1771)—in what became known as the Elizabethan Baroque style. The green-and-white palace has the overall shape of an elongated rectangle, and its principal façade is 215 metres (705 ft) long and 30 m (98 ft) high. The Winter Palace has been calculated to contain 1,886 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases.[5] Following a serious fire, the palace's rebuilding of 1837 left the exterior unchanged, but large parts of the interior were redesigned in a variety of tastes and styles, leading the palace to be described as a "19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style".[6]

In 1905 the Bloody Sunday massacre occurred when demonstrators marched toward the Winter Palace, but by this time the Imperial Family had chosen to live in the more secure and secluded Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo (lit. "regal village"), and returned to the Winter Palace only for formal and state occasions. Following the February Revolution of 1917, the palace operated for a short time as the seat of the Russian Provisional Government, ultimately led by Alexander Kerensky. Later that same year a detachment of Red Guard soldiers and sailors stormed the palace—a defining moment in the birth of the Soviet state.


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