Winter Palace

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Winter Palace


an 18th-century architectural monument in Leningrad; the principal residence of the Russian emperors until 1917. The first Winter House was built for Peter I in 1711 on the bank of the Winter Canal. The second version was constructed under the direction of architect G. I. Mattarnovi from 1716 to 1719 on the site of the present-day Hermitage Theater; it was rebuilt in the 1720’s under the direction of the architect D. Tressini. In 1732, B. Rastrelli began construction of the third Winter Palace with facades on the Neva River and the Palace Square; it was rebuilt several times. The fourth Winter Palace, a temporary wooden structure that was destroyed in 1762, was built in 1755 by Rastrelli at the corner of Nevskii Prospekt and Moika Embankment.

The fifth and current Winter Palace was built in the baroque style by Rastrelli from 1754 to 1762 on the site of the third palace that had been pulled down. The building, designed in the shape of a powerful square with an inner courtyard, has facades directed toward the Neva, the Admiralty, and the Palace Square. The palace has more than 1,000 rooms. Its facades, which are each decorated differently, are coordinated with their surroundings. The columns are arranged in varying intervals—grouped closely together to conceal the wall or separated to reveal the wall’s flatness. The grandiose dimensions of the Winter Palace and of its facades, the strong projection of the major risalitos, the accentuation of the stepped corners, and the rhythmic arrangement of columns create an impression of majesty, magnificence, and powerful plasticity. The splendid decoration of the facades and the interior, which contains suites of rooms, emphasizes the formal and ceremonial functions of the building.

The interior of the Winter Palace has been frequently reconstructed. The suites along the Neva, as well as the Throne (Georgievskii) Room, were rebuilt during the 1780’s and 1790’s by G. Quarenghi and I. E. Starov. The Gallery of the Patriotic War of 1812 was constructed in 1826 by the architect C.I . Rossi. After the fire of 1837, the facades and main halls were restored by V. P. Stasov, and the interior chambers, by A. P. Briullov.

On Feb. 5, 1880, S. N. Khalturin, in an attempt to assassinate Alexander II, set off an explosion in the Winter Palace. On Jan. 9, 1905, a peaceful workers’ demonstration in front of the Winter Palace was fired upon; this event marked the beginning of the Revolution of 1905-07. During the February Revolution of 1917, the palace was occupied by troops that had gone over to the side of the people. In July 1917, it became the residence of the bourgeois Provisional Government; at the same time, a significant part of the palace was used as an infirmary. During the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Red Guard and revolutionary soldiers and sailors surrounded the Winter Palace on the night of Oct. 25-26 (Nov. 7-8), 1917. Guarded by a garrison of 2,700 cadets, the palace was taken by storm at 2:10 A.M. on October 26 (November 8). The leaders of the Provisional Government were arrested. In 1918, part (and, in 1922, all) of the building was transferred to the State Hermitage.


Uspenskii, A. I.Imperatorskie dvortsy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1913.
Sokolova, T. M. Zimnii dvorets. Leningrad, 1958.
Piliavskii, V. I. Zimnii dvorets. Leningrad, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
The facilities will be placed near Lyulin and James Baucher metro stations, to the tram number 10 at West Park, President Lincoln Boulevard, Iskra Chitalishte in Orlandovtsi, Central Bus Station, Vrazhdebna Polyclinic, to the Center for Infectious Diseases, Military Medical Academy, Mimi Balkanska Street, to NIMH on Tsarigradsko shosse Blvd., to the Winter Palace, to Rakovski Stadium, to the 29th DCC in Sofia.
1905: Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg, when at least 500 people were slaughtered as thousands marched on the Winter Palace in protest at Tsar Nicholas II's regime.
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