A Touch Of Grandiosity (Grand Church of the Winter Palace)

“The Grand Church of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, sometimes referred to as the Winter Palace’s cathedral, was consecrated in 1763. It is located on the piano nobile in the eastern wing of the Winter Palace, and is the larger, and principal, of two churches within the Palace. A smaller, more private church was constructed in 1768, near the private apartment in the northwest part of the wing. The Grand Church was designed by Francesco Rastrelli, and has been described as “one of the most splendid rooms” in the Palace. Today, the church is an unconsecrated exhibition hall of the State Hermitage Museum”


Bronze Bust of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia dated between 1725-1729 on display at Versailles

The armour on the bust has the insignia of the Order of St Andrew incorporated into it. Decorating the cuirass are scenes of battle showing Peter’s forces celebrating great victories presumably over the Swedish army.

The bust was made by the artist Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli from Florence who made this after Peter’s death in 1725 and was refined by one of Rastrelli’s assistants in 1729.

Behind the bust is a panel of crimson silk with the Imperial Russian Eagle made in 1856  in homage to Peter the Great.

The Catherine Park. Pavilion Grotto

Built in the years 1753-1757 by the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, on the bank of a large pond.

Екатерининский парк. Павильон Грот построен в 1753—1757 годы по проекту архитектора Ф.-Б. Растрелли на берегу Большого пруда.


On this day in history, 5th of January 1762, death of Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia (29 December 1709 - 5 january 1762), eldest daughter of Peter the Great and his second wife, Catherine I.  

Elizabeth seized the power during a daring coup on the night of 25 November 1741 with the help of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Arriving at the regimental headquarters wearing a warrior’s metal breastplate over her dress and grasping a silver cross she challenged them: “Whom do you want to serve: me, your natural sovereign, or those who have stolen my inheritance?”. The coup, amazingly, succeeded without bloodshed.Elizabeth had vowed that if she became Empress she would not sign a single death sentence, an extraordinary promise for the time but one which she kept throughout her life.

The wife of the British minister (ambassador) described Elizabeth as “fair, with light brown hair, large sprightly blue eyes, fine teeth and a pretty mouth. She is inclinable to be fat, but is very genteel and dances better than anyone I ever saw. She speaks German, French and Italian, is extremely gay and talks to everyone…”

During her 21 years as Empress Elizabeth led the country into the two major European conflicts of her time: the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). She encouraged Mikhail Lomonosov’s establishment of the University of Moscow and Ivan Shuvalov’s foundation of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. She also spent exorbitant sums of money on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. The Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg are among the chief monuments of her reign.

In the late 1750s Elizabeth’s health started to decline. She began to suffer a series of dizzy spells and refused to take the prescribed medicines. She forbade the word “death” in her presence. Knowing she was dying, Elizabeth used her last remaining strength to make her confession, to recite with her confessor the prayer for the dying and to say good-bye to those few people who wished to be with her including Peter (Elizabeth’s nephew and chosen heir, later Peter III) and Catherine (future Catherine the Great) and Counts Alexei (Elizabeth’s long term favorite) and Kirill Razumovsky. Finally on 5 January 1762 the Empress died and was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

Tutto quello che ho imparato, l'ho imparato da...

Figlia n.1: Sei in ritardo! E’ mezz'ora che ti sto aspettando!
Io: Uno stregone non è mai in ritardo. Né in anticipo. Arriva precisamente quando intende farlo.

Io: Ci sono dei segni, mi sembra elfico… non riesco a leggerlo.
Figlia n.2: Papà, me lo correggi o no il tema?!

Compagna: Ti faccio notare che è ora che tu rastrelli un po’ il cortile.
Io: Non a caso cadono le foglie di Lorièn…

Figlia n.1: Papà, mi puoi portare lo zaino di scuola in camera mentre mi trucco?
Io: Non ho memoria di questo posto.

Figlia n.2: Perché devi dire così tutte le volte che trovi un wifi gratuito?

Compagna: Puoi semplicemente regolare la sveglia e basta, per favore?

Io, con una tavoletta di cioccolato bianco: IL MIO TESSSORO!


The two palaces standing five hundred yards apart in the Imperial Park during the reign of Nicholas II had been built by Empress Elizabeth and by Catherine the Great. In 1752, Elizabeth ordered the famous architect Rastrelli to build a palace at Tsarskoe Selo which would outshine Versailles. Rastrelli erected the big blue-and-white palace now called the Catherine Palace, an ornate structure with more than two hundred rooms. It pleased Elizabeth so much that she made Rastrelli a Russian count. 

In late eighteenth century, Catherine the Great commissioned another Italian, Quarenghi, to build a second, smaller palace at Tsarskoe Selo for her beloved grandson, a boy who was to become Alexander I. Quarenghi’s building, the Alexander Palace, was as simple as the Catherine was ornate. It was here, to the Alexander Palace, that Nicholas II brought his bride to live in the spring of 1895. It remained their home for twenty-two years.”

Robert K. Massie, Nicholas & Alexandra