The palace of Emperor Alexander III at Massandra is one of the finest architectural constructions to be found on the southern coast of the Crimea, dating from the second half of the 19th century.
Massandra was originally acquired by Count Potocki in 1783. In the mid-19th century, it passed to Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, whose father had been the governor-general of the region. Enraptured by a picturesque setting, Vorontsov in 1881 engaged a team of French architects to design for him a chateau in the Louis XVIII style. He died the following year and construction work was suspended until 1889, when the messuage was purchased by Alexander III of Russia. The tsar asked architect Maximilian Messmacher to finish the palace for his own use but he did not live to see it completed in 1900.
Designed as an imitation of a romantic French chateau on the Loire River, and set among pine woods, the palace with its bright looks was to reflect and merge harmoniously with the natural surroundings of the southern Crimea.
In Massandra abundant ornamentaion, details of a Renaissance style and newly born art nouveau style can be found. However, the dominant feature of the palace is its Baroque style.
The exquisite decoration of the rooms is admired by all. All the architectural works executed are noted for their spectacular quality of workmanship and artistic taste.
Nicholas II inherited the palace after his father's death in 1894, but visited it only once during his 23-year reign.
During the Soviet years, the palace was employed by Joseph Stalin as his dacha.
Today, the palace is open to the public as an architectural and arts museum. A guided tour allows visitors to admire its beautiful interiors, furniture, works of art, and historic memorabilia--photos, documents and letters--all carefully preserved.
© Royal Russia. 23 May, 2011