The city of Saint Petersburg served for a long time as the home of the Tsars of Russia. The city was named after Peter the Great’s patron saint, the apostle Saint Peter, and was the capital of Russia for more than two hundred years. During a visit to France in early eighteenth century, Peter was impressed by the Versailles and had the similar Great Peterhof Palace built. The Winter Palace, Catherine Palace, and Alexander Palace were among the most beautiful and famous of many imperial palaces in Saint Petersburg.
The Alexander Palace was presented as a gift by Catherine the Great for her favorite grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, the future emperor Alexander I of Russia on the occasion of his marriage to Grand Duchess Elizaveeta Alexeevna, born Princess Luise Marie Augusta of Baden. The palace construction was completed in May of 1796, and in June the Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, his spouse and his court moved into the new Palace. The Palace in the classical style is considered to be the pearl among the creations of Quarenghi and one of the main masterpieces in the world. The art-critic I.E.Grabar wrote that “there are palaces bigger and more regal, but there is no palace which architecture is more beautiful”. In the center of the main northern façade is a magnificent Corinthian colonnade passage consisting of two rows of columns. In 1838 two sculptures were placed in front of the colonnade. A.S. Pushkin immortalized these sculptures in his poems. In the early XX century, during the reign of Nicholas II, the Alexander Palace was the main residence and a summer dacha for the Imperial Family, but it became a real home for the last Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna during the last 13 years of their reign. The Alexander Palace was the focus of court life: here are accepted after, celebrated the 300th anniversary of the House of Romanov and the 200th anniversary of Tsarskoye Selo. From this palace the family of Nicholas II was sent into exile in Tobolsk. (x) (x)
I have been very fortunate to have obtained the Autochrome book from Tsarskoe Selo from a very great friend. These are not ALL the autochromes in it, but here is a selection. I know some have made it online already, so I tried to take shots that I haven’t seen online. Also, I know The Alexander Palace is planning on launching a website that will host ALL autochromes in HQ… so these are here to tide you over.
Remember, these photos were taken IN FULL COLOUR in 1917. These are NOT re-coloured by anyone in photoshop. These are the real colours of rooms in the Alexander Palace as the Romanovs saw them.
Autochromes of the Alexander Palace taken by my camera from the new AutoChrome book (See here: http://bit.ly/R9Umf1).
“ The day they sent the Romanovs away, the Alexander Palace became forlorn and forgotten - a palace of ghosts. In June  the state rooms located on the ground floor of the palace were opened to the public after a careful inventory had been made of all their contents. People paid their 15 kopecks to enter and gawp, not at what they had anticipated would be the lavish style in which their former tsar had lived, but rather in disbelief that such a homespun environment could have been the residence of the last Tsar of All the Russias. Their interiors were unexpectedly modest by former imperial standards - no grander perhaps than those of a public library or museum in the capital, or the country house of a moderately well-off gentleman. But for the Romanov family the Alexander Palace had been a much loved home." - Helen Rappaport, The Romanov Sisters