Beneath the roof of the Winter Palace...
The openwork metal constructions that fill the spaces of all the attic
“halls” were created after the fire of 17 December 1837. That
conflagration which raged for 30 hours destroyed everything inside the
palace. It was touch and go whether the other buildings of the complex
could be saved.
When the Winter Palace was rebuilt new metal constructions, highly advanced
for their day were employed. Two methods of iron construction were proposed
for the ceilings by the talented engineer M.Ye. Clark: elliptical beams
for the smaller rooms and metal beams with special joists for the halls
with a large span. The metal elements were produced at the Alexandrovsky
Iron Foundry in St. Petersburg where Clark was manager.
The metal roof created by the restoration after the fire was the object
of special attention from those responsible for the upkeep of the palace.
The immense area of the ceilings, complex configuration, the host of intersecting
pitches, skylights, gable windows and hatchways made it impossible to
neglect this aspect of the building. A specialist team numbering 60 people
maintained the roof and kept watch in the attics. The workers went out
onto the roof at any time of year, always in felt footwear. The little
stoves or hearths that the men on duty used to heat food, dry clothing
and warm themselves have still survived in the attics.
A small exhibition specially prepared for the presentation of the Programme
for the Utilization of the Attic Space in the Hermitage Buildings presents
constructional elements and tools from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
View of the exhibition in the Hermitage attic
Part of the exhibition
Arched ceiling of the attic