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Destinations · Europe · russian federation · Saint Petersburg · Museums and galleries ·

Vladimir Palace (Dom Uchenikh)

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

Vladimir Palace, known today as the Academics' House (Dom Uchenikh) is one of those special places that normally remain undiscovered by the average tourist. The Grand Duke Vladimir, one of the three children of Tsar Alexander II, was a prominent patron of the arts of his time, President of the Academy of Arts and the sponsor of many great artists, including Sergey Diaghilev. Among other things, Grand Duke Vladimir owned a valuable art collection, one of the gems of which was Ilya Repin's Volga Barge Haulers (Burlaki na Volge), said to be purchased from the author for 3000 roubles. Admittedly, one of the best known facts of his biography has to do with the Bloody Sunday of 1905: as the Commander of the Guard of St Petersburg Military District, he was the person who ordered to open fire at the workers' demonstration. The construction of the palace, overseen by the architect Rezanov, started when Vladimir was 20. Its opening, on the other hand, was dedicated to an important event in the life of the Russian court, the marriage of the Grand Duke and Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. The architecture and decor is dominated by eclecticism typical of the time: a monumental façade without any excessive resplendence, Venetian glass windows that emphasise the affinity of the building with Italian architecture, luxurious apartments with each room dedicated to a different style, from Renaissance to Rococo. Until 1917 the palace was one of the main centres of social life in St Petersburg, the venue of countless musical and literary nights and balls. Princess Maria Pavlovna was regarded as one of the most illustrious socialites and renowned for her musicality; her salon was frequented by the likes of Rakhmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Chaliapin. After the Russian Revolution the palace was handed over to scientists, and that, among other things, is the reason why the palace is one of the few places in St Petersburg where the historic decor has remained practically intact, including the magnificent Louis XV-style salon, the Russian oak-panelled hall with woodcarvings and a fireplace and the Oriental room for hookah-smoking with a portrait of Maria Pavlovna's daughter on the wall. But most importantly - there is nothing of the stuffiness of a classical museum about the place, no red ropes to cordon things off, etc. As you wander across the slightly squeaky parquet floor and watch your guide - a fragile girl in a claret dress matching the panelling in one of the rooms - open yet another heavy door with a huge key, it feels almost as if the owners of the place had only just left the building. The Vladimir Palace is open to the general public daily except Sundays; it is a good idea to book a guided tour in advance; call + 315 88 14 (entrance fee is RUB 30).

26 Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya

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