The Palais Rohan represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the Strasbourg since the end of the 19th century: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city gallery, Galerie Robert Heitz, is also in a side wing of the palace.
The palace was commissioned by Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de Rohan, Bishop of Strasbourg, from the architect Joseph Massol and erected between 1731 and 1742 according to plans by Robert de Cotte. It was built on the site of the former residence of the Bishop, the so-called Palatium, which had been built from 1262 onwards. In 1744, Louis XV stayed in the palace, and Marie Antoinette stayed there in 1770. In 1805, 1806 and 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte stayed there and had some of the rooms changed to suit his tastes and those of his wife, Joséphine. In 1810, Napoleon's second wife Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma spent her first night on French soil in the palace. Another royal guest was king Charles X of France in 1828. From 1872 until 1898, the palace served as the main building of the imperial German Universität Straßburg, up until the founding and opening of the new 'Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität'. The art collection of the city (previously kept in the Aubette on the Place Kléber, which had been burned after Prussian artillery fire on August 24, 1870) had been completely destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War. As of 1898 and during the course of the re-establishment of the art collection, the palace became the seat of the imperial museums of Strasbourg. On August 11, 1944, the building was damaged by British and American bombs. The restoration of the premises was completed in the 1990s.
The palace is built on a nearly square base which falls away toward the Ill River and is subdivided around a three-part inner court by a gallery. South of that, there is a main wing for the Prince-Archbishop, with its two representative Classic façades, which extends the entire width of the building. The most extravagant and overwhelming feature, from the viewpoint of the overall impression, is the façade which faces the Ill, with a small flat terrace with wrought-iron railings extending on both sides before it. The courtyard gate to the cathedral is wide and curved and has a roof with religious sculptures.
The chambers of the Prince-Archbishop, which can be viewed today in nearly their original condition, are divided into the grand appartement (display space, facing the river) and petit appartement (living space, facing the inner court), as in the Palace of Versailles. On both sides of the suites are the two most spacious rooms of the palace, the dining hall and the library, which both extend over the entire longitudinal axis of the wing. The library also serves as the nave of the castle's very small chapel.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.