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Before the Winter Palace stands the Alexander column, honouring Tsar Alexander I for his victory on Napoleon.
The red granit column erected in 1834 weighs 600 tons. Together with the bronze angel on top it reaches a height of 47 m and is supposed to be the largest freestanding monument of the world.

The Winter Palace was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian Tsars. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730s and 1837, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the palace in 1917 became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution.

The palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. From the palace, the Tsar and autocrat of all the Russias ruled over 22,400,000 square kilometres (almost 1/6 of the Earth's landmass) and 176.4 million subjects. It was designed by many architects, most notably Bartolomeo Rastrelli, in what came to be known as the Elizabethan Baroque style; the green-and-white palace has the shape of an elongated rectangle. It has been calculated that the palace possesses 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. Its principal faηade is 150 m long and 30 m high. The rebuilding of 1837 left the exterior unchanged, but large parts of the interior were redesigned in a variety of tastes and styles, leading the palace to be described as a "19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style."

In 1905, the palace was the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre, but by this time the Imperial Family had chosen to live in the more secure and secluded Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, and returned to the Winter Palace only for the most formal and rarest state occasions. Following the February Revolution of 1917, the palace was for a short time the seat of the Russian Provisional Government, led by Alexander Kerensky. Later that same year the palace was stormed by a detachment of Red Army soldiers and sailors—a defining moment in the birth of the Soviet state. On a less glorious note, the month-long looting of the palace's wine cellars during this troubled period led to what has been described as "the greatest hangover in history". Today, restored, the palace forms part of the complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum.

(source : wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by Paul Bulteel (pauloog) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 77 N: 1882] (11751)
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