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Mikhailovskiy Castle

Enjoying a prominent location on the Fontanka River Embankment between the Summer Garden and the Mikhailovskiy Garden, the Mikhailovskiy Castle (also known as the Engineers' Castle) is one of St. Petersburg's most striking and unusual buildings, a reflection of Emperor Paul I's fascination with medieval chivalry, mysticism, and all things military.

  • Main facade of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St Petersburg, Russia
    Main facade of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • Aerial view of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St. Petersburg, Russia
    Aerial view of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • Winter view of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St. Petersburg, Russia
    Winter view of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • Frieze on the pediment of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St. Petersburg, Russia
    Frieze on the pediment of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle

Paul began plans for his St. Petersburg residence several years before his ascension to the throne, and drew up the initial plans for the building himself. Obsessed with medieval militarism and constantly afraid of assassination, he preferred not to live in the Winter Palace and determined to create a palace more suited to his particular tastes. The year after his coronation, work began on construction of the building (1797-1801) under the supervision of architects Vincenzo Brenna and Vasiliy Bazhenov. A square building with an octagonal inner courtyard, Mikhailovskiy Castle is remarkable for the fact each of its four facades are designed in a different architectural style - including gothic and renaissance - within the dominant neoclassicism of the building.

Two new canals were dug around the castle, joining the Moika and Fontanka Rivers and making the building accessible only by drawbridge. In front of the southern facade, Paul ordered the erection of an equestrian monument to Peter the Great designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and dating from 1747.

  • Monument to Emperor Paul I in the courtyard of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St Petersburg, Russia
    Monument to Emperor Paul I in the courtyard of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • Monument to Emperor Peter the Great outside Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in St Petersburg, Russia
    Monument to Emperor Peter the Great outside Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • The Grand Staircase of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    The Grand Staircase of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle
  • Interiors of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Interiors of Mikhailovsky (Engineers') Castle

Paul lived in his home for only 40 days before he was assassinated in his bedroom on 12 March 1801. His son, Emperor Alexander I, immediately moved the Imperial family back to the Winter Palace, and in 1819 the abandoned palace became home to the Main Engineering School of the Russian Army, the most famous student of which was probably Fyodor Dostoevsky, who was a cadet there 1838-1843. The building was passed to the State Russian Museum in 1994, and is now home to the museum's portrait collection. In the summer months, the courtyard of the palace is also used to host occasional concerts of classical music.

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