Favourites of Russian emperors

Favourite were the intimate companions of Russian rulers or other important person

The route will guide you through some places that remind abound the era of favouritism in Russia and tell you about the places where favourites lived

  • monuments 1 ,
  • palaces 4
13 km, 360 m
Menshikov Palace

Menshikov Palace

Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya naberezhnaya, 15

Menshikov Palace was the first stone building in the city

Since 1981, it has served as a public museum, a branch of the Hermitage Museum.

The palace was founded in 1710 as a residence of Saint Petersburg Governor General Alexander Menshikov and built by Italian architects Giovanni Maria Fontana, and, later, German architect Gottfried Johann Schädel. It was opened in 1711, but the construction continued until 1727 (assisted by Domenico Trezzini, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Georg Johann Mattarnovy and Jean-Baptiste Le Blond), when Menshikov with his family was exiled to Siberia and his property was confiscated.

In 1731, Cadet Corps were established and occupied the palace and neighboring buildings. At the end of the 19th century the Menshikov Palace was restored and became the museum of the Corps. In 1924, its collections were moved to the Hermitage and other museums. From 1956-1981 the Menshikov Palace was restored again and finally opened to the public as a branch of the Hermitage Museum with a collection of Russian art of the late 17th-early 18th century.

Marble Palace

Marble Palace

St. Petersburg, Millionnaya ul., 5/1

The palace is a prime example of early classicism architecture

The palace was designed by architect Antonio Rinaldi, whose portrait can be found on a marble bas-relief installed on a sidewall of the main staircase at the palace’s entrance. The portrait’s existence resulted from the request by the original owner of the palace, Count Orlov, who wanted to express his admiration for the talent of the architect. In the middle of the XIX century, the palace was rebuilt according to the project of architect Alexander Bryullov.

The three-storey stone building stands out in the panoramic view of the Palace Embankment with its massiveness and magnificence. The strict beauty of its architectural style is emphasised by the diverse texture and colourfulness of natural stone used in the decoration of its façades and interiors. Pilasters and columns evenly alternate with windows, and thanks to the selection of different types of stone, the whole composition is filled with calm grace.

Different varieties of marble were used during the construction of the palace, mainly from domestic deposits discovered in the 1760s along the shores of Ladoga and Onega lakes. Pink Tivdian marble is used to decorate the clock tower, attic and pilasters, uniting the two upper floors of the building. The window frames are made of grey Ruskeala marble, and the decorative wreaths between the windows of the second and third floors are made of white Ural marble. The plinth part of the building, made of Vyborg pink rapakivi granite, has a beautiful rough texture thanks to special surface treatment.

In front of the eastern façade, there’s a monument to Alexander III by P. P. Trubetskoy, which was mounted on Vosstaniya Square in 1909-1937. To the east of the building there is a monument to A.V. Suvorov by M. I. Kozlovsky on Suvorovskaya Ploshchad'.

A new stage in the life of Marble Palace began in 1992, when it was transferred to the State Russian Museum. Since then, systematic examination and scientific restoration of the unique monument have been carried out.

4 km, 236 m
Razumovsky's Palace

Razumovsky's Palace

St. Petersburg, Moiki nab., 48

Nowadays the Herzen Pedagogical University is located in the building

In 1739 a wooden palace for Count Reinhold Gustaw von Loewenwolde, a favourite of the Empress Anna Ioannovna, was constructed on this place according to F.B. Rastrelli's project. Nearby the homestead of his lover N.F. Lopukhina was located, so Loewenwolde chose this site. After the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna came into power, Loewenwolde was exiled and the palace was confiscated. In 1743 Elizabeth presented the palace to her former favourite A. Y. Shubin. However, Shubin, being a former favorite, considered it unsafe to stay in Saint Petersburg and left the capital.

In 1749 the site became the possession of Kirill Razumovsky, the Ukrainian hetman and the president of the Academy of Sciences. In 1760 the wooden construction was demolished due to dilapidation. The newspaper «Saint Petersburg Vedomosti» published the following announcement: «Count K. G. Razumovsky's wooden house on a stone foundation for those wishing to dismantle, transport and put it on the Krestovsky Island ... can come to the house office». In 1762, the architect A.F. Kokorinov started constructing a new stone building. By 1766 J. B. Vallin de la Mothe finished the construction. A part of the garden has been preserved in the homestead till the modern days. From the side of the Kazan street it is fenced by the lattice of the Kazan Cathedral. Razumovsky Palace was famous for its pompous balls and masquerades. 260 servants were working in the palace. On holidays the count organized alms for beggars here and this event attracted more than 2000 beggars.

In 1781 Razumovsky sold the palace to the Polish count K.P. Branitsky and left Saint Petersburg. Count Branitsky lived here until 1798 and then left Russia. The Razumovsky Palace was sold to the state for 450.000 rubles. Shortly after that the palace was granted to the Orphanage created by the order of Paul I on 2 May 1797. The Emperor's wife Maria Fyodorovna patronized it and I.I. Betskoy became its first director. The Orphanage was intended primarily for poor children: foundlings and children with disabilities. A pelican sculpture can be seen on the facades of the buildings and on the entrance arch. This symbol reflects the mission of the institution located here. In 1797 the neighbouring building was granted to the Orphanage – the house number 50 on the Moika Embankment. In 1798 the premises of the Razumovsky Palace were redesigned . In 1829-1834 a house church and a two-story hospital were built here according to the project of D. Quadri and P.S. Plavov, a third floor was attached to the hospital in 1842-1844. Side wings were reconstructed in 1831-1834. In 1837 the Orphanage was transformed into the Women's Orphan Institute (in 1885 its name was changed for the Nikolaev Orphan Institute). Its students were taught the pedagogical profession. The Imperial Women's Pedagogical Institute, the first pedagogical institute in Russia, was established here in 1903.

In 1839-1842 a new building was attached to the institute. In 1868 a monument to I. I. Betskoy created by A. Laveretsky, a copy of the work by the Danish sculptor J. Zamelgak, was erected in front of the palace. In 1918 the name of the institute was changed for the First Pedagogical Institute. Later the Second and the Third Institutes and other independent educational institutions were opened here. In 1922-1925 the Leningrad State Pedagogical Institute named after A.I. Herzen was created on their basis. In 1961 a monument to the outstanding Russian teacher K. D. Ushinsky (sculptor - V.V. Lishev) was erected in front of the main entrance. In 1991 the institute officially obtained the university status.

3 km, 512 m
Monument to Catherine II

Monument to Catherine II

St. Petersburg, ploshad Ostrovskogo

The artist M.O. Mikeshin started work on the plans in 1860. The designs were accepted in 1872, at which point the erection of the pedestal, made of 600 Serdobolsk granite blocks, had already began. Special ships were built to from the stones, which weighed up to 50 tons, from the Valaam Archipelago Island.

Surrounding the pediment are nine sculptural portraits of nobles from Catherine the Great's time (sculptor A.M. Opekushin); these are organised into groups of generals (P.A. Rumyantsev, G.A. Potemkin, A.V. Suvorov), officials (A.A. Bezborodko, I.I. Betskoy), naval commanders (V.Y. Chichagov, A.G. Orlov) and cultural figures (G.R. Derzhavin, E.R. Dashkova). 

1 km, 50 m
Tavrichesky Palace

Tavrichesky Palace

St. Petersburg, Shpalernaya ul., 47

Tavricheskiy or "Tauride" Palace is one of the largest and most impressive palaces in St. Petersburg

Located in the north-east of the historic centre, next to the Tavricheskiy Garden(formerly the grounds of the palace).


4 km, 316 m