From Peter the Great through to the Soviet Union and the current Russian Federation, Russia can proudly boast of an incredibly long and rich history. Russia’s impressive history has resulted in its splendid architectural achievement.
These architectural beauties are a stamp of Russia’s might and wealth. From the icons and onion domes to a supremacist and the Stalin Baroque, Russian architecture is filled with exotic forms and sensibilities.
Here is a look at the five most beautiful buildings in Russia.
1. Winter Palace
This magnificent palace was designed by the architect Rastrelli on the orders of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna and greatly altered over the next two decades. From 1732 till the Revolution of 1917 it was the official residence of the Russian monarchs starting with Catherine the Great. Its grandiose interiors are still preserved today and open to visitors.
The magnificent State Gala Staircase covered with a plush red velvet carpet, decorated with huge mirrors, ceiling paintings, and gilded wood carvings are a testament to the great baroque style. This white and teal palace house one of the greatest Russian pride, the Hermitage Museum, which possesses masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Rembrandt, and many other great artists. This monumental palace reflects the might and power of imperial Russia.
2. Saint Basil’s Cathedral
This spectacular cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate a military victory in the 16th century. This beautiful confusion of colours, patterns, and shapes show a culmination of style that is unique to Russian architecture.
Its original colours matched the white stone of the Kremlin, while its domes were gold. Only from the 17th century onwards the façade and domes began to be painted in the concoction of colours as is seen today, with the pigment inspiration drawn from the Book of Revelation.
The apparent chaos in its design hides a comprehensible plan of nine chapels, and its interior is a maze of galleries winding from chapel to chapel, with the walls painted in floral and geometric patterns.
The symmetry and symbolism in the intricate and confusing pattern of this prized landmark is a wonder to behold. No wonder legend has it that Ivan the Terrible had its architect blinded so that he could never replicate this beauty.
3. Peterhof Palace
With a series of majestic palaces and courtyards full of glinting gold statues and the grand fountains, it is rightly known as the “Russian Versailles.” It was founded in 1714 by Peter the Great, who had visited Versailles and was impressed by its architecture.
He played an active role in its layout and design, creating a fountain complex on a much grander scale along with a magnificent ensemble of several palaces and three parks.
The most amazing creation in here is the Great Cascade in front of the Great Imperial Palace. This cascade consists of several fountains, decorated with gilded statues of ancient Greek and Roman gods and heroes. The figures glistening in the sun and the springs of sparkling water render it glamour like no other.
The interiors are equally luxuriant with the baroque halls decorated with gilded wood carvings, painted ceilings, inlaid parquet floors of wood, mirrors, tiled stoves, and furniture in the marquetry technique.
4. Grand Kremlin Palace
The architectural complex of the Kremlin includes a number of historical monuments, one of which is the stately white and yellow building known as the Grand Kremlin Palace. It was constructed in the 19th century at the initiative of Tsar Nicholas I.
The architecture is a combination of various styles from Russo-Byzantine to the Renaissance, and the interiors are decorated with motifs from Rococo, Renaissance, and ancient art. Its resplendent interiors consist of beautifully decorated hallways, throne rooms, and ballrooms.
There are nine churches, 700 rooms, the Terem Palace, and the Holy Vestibule housed within it. The most solemn Hall is the St. George’s Hall with its gold-painted walls and 18 solid columns depicting the victories of the Russian army. It is rightfully known as the “Museum of Russian palace interior.”
5. Institute of Robotics and Cybernetic Technologies
This is one of the largest research centres in Russia. It is also known as the “White Tulip” because of its concertina-edged structure situated at the centre of the complex. This centre is used for heavy-duty R&D work in mechanical and electrical robotics, and space engineering, with a focus on technical cybernetics relating to air, land, and sea.
This plush building is renowned for its modernist architectural trends of the Soviet Union, envisioning a Soviet future where dialectical materialism and mathematical designs ruled. It is also an ode to Russia’s dominance in the research space.
Book a trip with a Russian tour operator (tour operator Russe) to behold these and many other architectural pearls of Russia.