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The Menshikov Palace

In 1709 Peter the Great presented Vasilyevsky Island to his favourite associate, the “Most Illustrious Prince” Alexander Menshikov, and soon a beautiful palace, the “Prince’s Home”, one of the earliest masonry building in St Petersburg, began to grace the area.

The University Embankment. The Menshikov Palace. 1710-21. Architects: Giovanni Mario Fontana, Johann Gottfried Schadel, Andreas Schluter, Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli and others (interiors). 1730s-1740s. Architect: Domenico Trezzini

The Menshikov Palace

Although nobody doubted Menshikov’s low descent, he was lucky to become the Tsar’s closest friend sharing the table, joys and troubles with him. The prince made a breathtaking career, accumulated unbelievable riches and was the first governor of St Petersburg. His palace glistened with luxury, especially striking in comparison with the Tsar’s modest cottage. For a long time the Menshikov Palace remained the centre of social life in the capital, a place where official ceremonies and balls were held. Behind the palace there was a beautiful garden, the second best in St Petersburg after the Tsar’s Summer Gardens, also decorated with Italian sculpture, and a stone greenhouse, the first in the city, were even tropical fruit ripened.

The Walnut Drawing Room, which had the significance of Alexander Menshikov’s main study, is adorned with walnut panelling
Peter the Great, Empress Catherine I and other members of the imperial family often visited this building

The Walnut Drawing Room

The prince who had risen from rags to riches, walked around his garden shortly before his exile of 1727. He was deprived of all his titles, decorations and wealth in the reign of the young Emperor Peter II and died in Siberia forgotten by everybody. The building of the Menshikov Palace housed the First Cadet Corps in 1731. After the restoration of 1956-81 it became a branch of the Hermitage Museum devoted to the Russian Culture of the Age of Peter the Great.

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