The Winter Palace of Peter I
The Winter Palace of Peter I is a unique architectural and
historical monument of the early 18th century which
forms part of the building of the Hermitage Theatre, as
was proved by the research of Hermitage architects conducted between
1976 and 1986. When Giacomo Quarenghi constructed the Theatre
during 1783-89, he preserved some parts of the ground and first floor
of the Peter's palace and also whole groups of apartments. A part of the
state courtyard has been discovered underneath the Theatre's stage, surrounded
on two sides by the arcades of passage galleries and the suites of rooms
of the Winter Palace from Peter's day.
The official residence of Peter I was built from 1719 to
1722 by Domenico Trezzini according to a design by Georg Johann Mattarnovi
who died in 1719. The two floors of the southern facade of the building
were decorated with arcades facing a courtyard. On the walls retaining
elements of architectural decoration - rustication and medallions - the
remaining traces of the old paint have been discovered under a layer of
plaster, which provided the basis for repainting the walls during reconstruction.
The northern facade overlooking the Neva River, which has not survived,
was notable for its solemnity: the architect designed it using the motif
of a Roman triumphal arch. In autumn 1723, a house-warming party was held
in the Throne Room, with a feast and fireworks. In January 1725, Peter
the Great died here in one of the rooms which has not been preserved.
Today the state courtyard has been repaved in brick in the "Dutch
style" and is used as an exhibition area for the ceremonial carriage
of Peter I and a carnival sledge of the early 18th century.
In the space under the auditorium of the Hermitage Theatre,
there are several rooms of the ground floor of Peter I's "Small Chambers"
constructed by Mattarnovi in 1716-20 on the bank of the Winter Canal.
These chambers formed a complex of residential and official buildings
which included a harbour, a garden with a fountain and a slip to keep
and maintain Peter's sailing boat. The decoration of the rooms has been
restored according to documents describing the work done in them, with
wall panels of Dutch tiles, inlaid parquet floors, oak shutters and window
sashes. The rooms have been furnished using things once belonged to Peter
I and now kept in the State Hermitage collection.
In addition, on two stories of the Hermitage Theatre along
the Winter Canal there are twelve apartments preserved from the "Newly-Built
Chambers" of Empress Catherine I designed by Domenico Trezzini in