The Stroganov Palace is a Late Baroque palace was built to Bartolomeo Rastrelli's designs for Baron Sergei Grigoriyevich Stroganov in 1753-1754. The interiors were remodeled by Andrei Voronikhin at the turn of the 19th century. The first house for the Stroganovs was built on the site probably in 1720s. It was a building of one storey. Аrchitect Mikhail Zemtsov erected a second two-storey house in the 1740s.
In 1752 Baron Sergei Stroganov commissioned the palace design from Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, then at work extending the Catherine Palace and building the Smolny Convent for Empress Elisabeth. Since the Stroganovs were the richest family in Russia and were related to the Empress by marriage, Rastrelli could not turn down the commission and hastily prepared a design for the townhouse.
Like the Vorontsov Palace (also designed by Rastrelli for Stroganov's in-law Mikhail Vorontsov), the Stroganov Palace was not rapidly built. The Main Staircase decorated with marble sculptures led to the elegant Grand Hall, which featured a huge painting by Venetian artist Giuseppe Valeriani. After Sergei Stroganov's death in 1756, the decoration was completed by his son Alexander in 1760. Within several years, the new empress, Catherine II introduced the Neoclassical taste. The style was also championed by Alexander Stroganov, who became President of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1800.
In the 1790s and 1800s decades, architect Andrei Voronikhin was charged with refurbishing the interiors in the Neoclassical style. Voronikhin's mother was the Stroganovs' serf, and it was rumored that his father was Alexander Stroganov. The first suites by Voronikhin were the Mineral Study, Picture Gallery, Library and Alexander Stroganov's Physics Cabinet. Another two enfilades in the west wing were created for Pavel Stroganov, of which the Small Drawing Room survives.
After Alexander Stroganov died in 1811, the palace passed to his son Pavel. Pavel Stroganov had four daughters, but his only son was killed in the Battle of Craonne. He then established the Stroganov entail, i.e., a non-divisible estate which would pass to the oldest family member. This chain of ownership was preserved until 1919 when the last Count Sergei Stroganov sold his rights to the entail. A new apartment was decorated for Aglaida Pavlovna Stroganov by Carlo Rossi in 1820 (it later disappeared almost totally). After the October Revolution in 1917, the remaining Stroganovs emigrated from Russia, and the palace was nationalized. The family line is now extinct.
The Soviets declared the palace a national museum chronicling the lifestyle of the Russian nobility. In 1929 the museum was shut down, and much of its contents (including some priceless paintings) were taken to the Hermitage Museum. The palace was handed over to a botanical institute. The Ministry of Shipbuilding occupied the premises for half a century, starting in 1939.
In 1988 the palace was given to the Russian Museum and became a branch housing some of its exhibitions. The dilapidated building underwent a thorough and painstaking restoration process between 1991 and the present moment. In keeping with Rastrelli's original design, its walls are now painted light pink (rather than dark green, as they were in the mid-20th century). It is one of the few Baroque structures on Nevsky Prospect to preserve its original appearance.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.