The Mikhailovsky (St Michael's) Castle

The Mikhailovsky Castle is both a beautiful and unusual architectural phenomenon for St. Petersburg and was a silent witness to some interesting episodes in the dramatic story of the short-lived reign of Emperor Paul I, son of Catherine the Great. Catherine overthrew her husband Peter III to gain access to the Russian Imperial throne and then ruled the country until her death in 1796. By then her son Paul was 42 years old and would normally have already taken over the mantle of power from his mother. However, neither the nobility nor the royal guards liked or respected Paul and he lived his life in constant fear of assassination. In order to allay these fears he ordered a fortified palace (a castle surrounded by deep ditches) to be built for him. According to a legend, one of the soldiers guarding the construction site experienced a vision of the Archangel Michael guarding the castle alongside him. This was reported to the Emperor and the castle was given the name Mikhailovsky (St Michael's).

The Mikhailovsky (St Michael's) Castle in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Mikhailovsky (St Michael's) Castle

The paranoid Emperor Paul did not live in his new palace for long. In 1801 he was assassinated in his own bedroom by a group of officers who organized a coup, inspired by Paul's son Alexander.

Later the castle was used for the Army Engineers School and became know was the Engineer's Castle. Today the building hosts a branch of the Russian Museum.

Location: 2, Sadovaya Ulitsa (Street).