Text of the video tours
Not only individuals have the fate and fortunes, but also the buildings have. The Mariinsky Palace, today’s residence of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, plays an outstanding role in the social and political life of Saint Petersburg and Russia.
A Palace at the Blue Bridge was built by the order of Emperor Nicholas I for the beloved daughter – the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna.
Its architect, the famous Andrei Stackenschneider, gave the façade of the Palace the features of classicism. The façade is monumental and symmetric, which gives it a majestic tranquility.
The main entrance leads into the Main Hall of the Mariinsky Palace. The columns and pylons are distinguished against its walls background made from natural marble of faint tinge of pink, which support the vault.
In 2007, a bust of Maria Nikolaevna by the sculptor Galina Dodonova and architect Elena Lazareva was installed in the hall.
The ceiling of the hall before the Main Staircase is decorated with gilded stucco ornaments with patterns of letters forming the name "Maria". Majestic candelabras are installed near the staircase.
The staircase is split in two parts on the middle platform and leads to the bel-etage, where one of the most beautiful rooms of the Palace is located.
The Red Hall is a former Ceremonial reception room of Maria Nikolaevna’s husband, Duke Maximilian of Leuchtenberg. Dark red artificial marble is prevailing here, and the fluted pilasters are fronted with it. This color fits to the white walls and moulded capitals. The gilding of stucco and sculptural details, doors and frames, two huge mirrors and five magnificent chandeliers gives the festivity to the Hall. Seven palisander doors are decorated by masterly performed superfine pattern of mother-of-pearl, ivory and gilded bronze. The round medallions with images of ancient gods in chariots are placed in the middle fielded panel. These unique doors are made in the workshop of Fortner in Munich and in 1844 were delivered to Saint Petersburg by sea. Today protocol meetings of the members of the Legislative Assembly with foreign delegations are held in the Red Hall. This Hall was visited many times by heads of foreign parliaments, senior diplomats, and ministers of various states.
One of the Palace pearls is the White, former Dance Hall. In 1870s, the "Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti" newspaper thus reported in glowing terms about its architecture: "An elegant beauty, dressed in a white satin dress with band of Cypris". The decoration of the Hall is a large picturesque frieze, created by the famous artist-monumentalist Antonio Vighi. Scenes from classical mythology are depicted here. Today round tables and meetings of the standing bodies of Assembly are held here.
Rotunda is a center of the entire composition of the Palace. This round room is a room of surprisingly harmonious proportions with height about 17 meters, it is crowned by a high dome, through bay-window of which sunlight pours and on clear days fills the room with bright rays sparkling on the gilt decoration and bronze chandeliers. Originality of volumetric-spatial solutions makes the Mariinsky Palace Rotunda unique. Its excellent acoustics provided its fame as one of the best concert venues in Saint Petersburg. But it is known to a greater extent for the famous painting by Ilya Repin "Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council". It is here that this high institution engaged in discussion and preparation of bills of pre-revolutionary Russia had held its meetings.
After the reform of the state system of 1905, Rotunda could not contain more than 200 legislators, officials of the Stationery Office, press and public. The room, in which the Conservatory had been previously located, was reconstructed for meetings of the State Council. So, the Great Conference Hall, designed by the architect Leonty Benois, appeared in the Palace. The State Council, Pre-parliament, Provisional Government, Leningrad – Saint Petersburg Council of People's Deputies have met at various times in the spacious, bright room crowned with glass roof.
Since 1993, meetings of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg has been held in the Great Hall. The laws of the subject of Russian Federation are passed there; the Governor of the city speaks from this tribune with his annual report.
The glorious traditions of its first hostess, Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, who was famous for her social and charitable activities, are still kept in the Mariinsky Palace.
Today there, in the beautiful halls of the Palace, children's Christmas tree holydays are often held, exhibitions of artistic works are organized. Also in the Rotunda, newly elected honorary citizens of the city are honored at the birthday of Saint Petersburg.
Life of the creation of Andrei Stackenschneider indeed turned out to be rich by historical events.