A Walk Through the State Rooms

The Alexander Palace

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In June 2010, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo opened three of the former ceremonial State Rooms to the public for the first time in more than 50 years. The event coincided with the 300th anniversary of Tsarskoe Selo and was marked with great pomp and pageantry.

The palace had been under the administration of the Ministry of Defense since 1951 but was turned over to the Tsarskoe Selo State-Museum Reserve in October 2009. The restoration of the Portrait, Semi-Circular and Marble Halls was completed in record time, six months to reveal the luxurious and beautiful interiors.

In 1957, thousands of items were moved to Pavlovsk. Of these, nearly 200 pieces are originally from the three ceremonial State halls of the Alexander Palace including 39 pieces of porcelain, 41 paintings, 73 decorative bronze pieces, and 28 pieces of furniture. The Tsarskoe Selo State-Museum Reserve has requested that these items be returned to their rightful place.

Within the first few months of opening, the Alexander Palace welcomed a steady stream of esteemed visitors, all of whom came to marvel at the newly restored State Rooms. The list of guests included President Dimitri Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko, as well as descendants of the Romanov's, including HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the Russian Imperial House.

The selection of 70 colour photographs on this page highlight the renewed classic beauty of these great halls, including many of the original works of art from which they had once been a part of. Sadly, visitors will never truly have the opportunity to appreciate the true majesty of these halls, as so much of the furnishings have been lost to history. Today, one must be content with vintage photographs and drawings that have been preserved in the palace archives to allow a glimpse back in time of a world that is no more. However, we must truly acknowledge and commend the skills and dedication of the men and women who worked so hard to bring a small part of the lost world of Imperial Russia back to life for future generations to enjoy.

Founder & Web-Site Administrator, Royal Russia

NOTE: For more information, photographs, and videos of the restorations of the ceremonial State Halls of the Alexander Palace, please refer to the list of six news articles located at the bottom of this page.


The Semi-Circular Hall (Photo: © State Museum-Preserve "Tsarskoye Selo)

In the Suite of State Rooms, the central one was named the Semi-Circular Hall (a.k.a. Third State, or Middle Hall) because of a semicircular wall. The hall opens through broad, columned arches into the Portrait and Billiard Halls (a.k.a. Second Hall and Fourth Hall, or Marble Drawing-Room). Though many times renovated, the interior finish remained unchanged till 1941. The architect Quarenghi very tastefully decorated the interior with gilt furniture, marble fireplaces, and mirrors. The most remarkable were two stand lamps with glass columns and crystal pendants around their candle plates. The windows opened on a beautiful vista, and a mahogany door into the palace’s façade colonnade.

Under Nicholas II, the Semi-Circular Hall would welcome the Tsar’s closest courtiers and security guards officers with gala dinners and a Christmas tree.


The Portrait Hall (Photo: © State Museum-Preserve "Tsarskoye Selo)

The Portrait Hall was created in place of the Second State Hall, which was symmetrical to the Fourth State Hall (a.k.a. Billiard Hall, or Marble Drawing-Room). Both Second and Fourth Halls were classically decorated: artificial marble encrusted walls, vaulted ceilings with paints. Their furnishings included gilded furniture sets and other exquisite objects. Big mirrors in white wooden frames with gilt hung on the walls between the corner heat stoves made after a drawing by Giacomo Quarenghi.

Nicholas I was one of the first emperors who placed his and family members’ portraits in the palace. The Portrait Hall boasted one of the best portrait series by the German artist Franz Krüger, commissioned by the Emperor. The portrait of Nicholas I with a group of horsemen, his retinue, hung in the centre flanked by the portraits of the Emperor’s sons.


The Marble Drawing-Room (Photo: © State Museum-Preserve "Tsarskoye Selo)

Created in place of the Fourth State Hall, the Marble Drawing-Room was sometimes called the Billiard Hall because of the two, large and small, billiard tables installed there on the order of Nicholas II in 1832. The interior finish was classical. Symmetrical to the Second State (or Portrait) Hall, the room was furnished in like manner with a gilt furniture set and decorated with mirrors and gilded consoles with marble vases and glass lamps. A door to the adjacent White Hall was covered with a large white gilded pier mirror – to the architect Vasily Stasov’s design.

Plan of the Alexander Palace marking the location of the State Rooms

President Dmitry Medvedev on the restored Garden Terrace of the Alexander Palace, July 2010


Alexander Palace: Last Home of Emperor Nicholas II + 10 COLOUR PHOTOS
***18 March, 2011***

Restoration of the Alexander Palace Interiors to be Completed in 2017
***3 February, 2011***

Russian President Visits the Alexander Palace + Video
***22 July, 2010***

Concert in the Alexander Palace: In Memory of Nicholas II + Video
***13 July, 2010***

Alexander Palace State Rooms Now Open + Video
***23 June, 2010***

Alexander Palace to Become Multi-Museum and Exhibition Complex
***13 April, 2010***

Pavlovsk to Return Treasures to the Alexander Palace
***4 February, 2010***

Staterooms of the Alexander Palace to Open June 2010 + Video
***27 November, 2009***