Palaces of St. Petersburg

Many of Russia's noble families were reluctant to move their residences to Peter the Great's new northern capital, and the Tsar was forced to issue a decree banning building in stone elsewhere in the country to ensure that the nation's wealth and construction skills were transferred to St. Petersburg. Nonetheless, only a century later, St. Petersburg could boast a huge number of palaces, including some of the grandest residences not just in Russia, but in the whole of Europe. Taking their cue from the incomparable splendours of the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg's elite built on the grand scale, adopting architectural styles from rococo to Russian Revival to create monumentally impressive buildings with equally rich and varied interiors.

While many of St. Petersburg's palaces suffered cruelly during the October Revolution and the Siege of Leningrad, the period since has seen a massive effort to restore them to their former glories, and many are now open to the public, either simply as stately homes or as museums of art and history, or at least as venues for occasional concerts and other events.