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Four newly restored rooms of the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich (1798-1849) and his wife, the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (1807-1873) are scheduled to open this week in the Grand Menshikov Palace at Oranienbaum. This follows an extensive restoration of ten rooms in the central part of the palace which were opened to the public in 2011.
The unique historical interiors of the grand ducal couple will offer visitors examples of the rich aristocratic lifestyle enjoyed by members of the Russian Imperial family in the early to mid-18th century.
The palace has a rich history. Peter the Great presented the land to Prince Alexander Menshikov around 1710. Three years later, Menshikov began construction of his palace. After his arrest and exile in 1727 the Oranienbaum estate was passed to the State, and became a naval hospital. In 1743, the estate was presented by the Empress Elizabeth to her nephew, the future Emperor Peter III. Peter commissioned the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to renovate the palace, who left the exteriors untouched, but created sumptuous interiors. Numerous other architects made further alterations and the palace continued to change owners within the Romanov family.
Between 1857-1873, the Grand Duchess Elena (nee Princess Charlotte of Wurttemberg) commissioned her architects, L. Bosse and H. Preuss Bonshtedt to redesign many of the interiors to reflect her own personal tastes.
The four newly restored rooms are decorated with items from the vast Oranienbaum storage collection (some 7,000 items!), including furniture, mirrors, portraits and other personal items of the grand duchess .
It has been many years since I was at Oranienbaum. I recall the Grand Menshikov Palace which was very impressive, though its interiors were in a perilous state, some parts on the verge of collapse. In the past decade, major restoration work has been carried out on the palace's facade and interiors which has saved this beautiful palace. I look forward to seeing the palace and its newly restored historical interiors on my next visit to St. Petersburg.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 01 August, 2012