The Beloselsky-Belozersky palace belonged to the Princes Beloselskiy, a family who claimed descent from Yuri Dolgorukiy, the founder of Moscow. Their first palace was built on the same site by the Fontanka River in 1747, but it was a much more modest affair. The family's fortunes increased thanks to the close relationship between Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Beloselskiy-Belozerskiy and Emperor Paul I, and through marriage to two heiresses to Urals mining fortunes. It was one of those heiresses, the widowed Princess Elena Pavlovna Beloselskaya-Belozerskaya, who commissioned the present palace, petitioning Emperor Nicholas I to allow his court architect, Andrey Stackensneider, to design the building (his only civil commission in the city).
The palace was built 1847-1848, and became renowned for the lavish parties thrown there by Elena Pavlovna. A few decades later, however, the family found the palace too expensive to maintain, and it was sold to Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich, brother of Emperor Alexander III, in 1884. He had part of the interiors redesigned in 1888, and in 1897 the facades were restored and first painted in the deep pink that can be seen today.
Nationalised after the October Revolution, the Beloselskiy-Belozerskiy Palace became the headquarters of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party for the centre of Leningrad. In this role, its historic interiors were carefully maintained during the 20th century, despite significant damage in the Second World War, and the original rococo decorations have largely survived intact. The building is now home to a Municipal Cultural Centre (along with several smaller institutions), and hosts regular concerts of chamber music as well as offering occasional guided tours of the state rooms (three or four times per month or by appointment).References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.