The Menshikov Palace

The number ‘1710’ is carved on the palace situated at the University Embankment. It marks the foundation date of the palace of the Duke Alexander Menshikov. The “Legation House” is the other name of the palace belonging to Menshikov, an associate of Peter I. It was one of the first stone buildings in St. Petersburg and is the only residential building of that time that has been preserved to the present day.

The building site at Vasilyevsky Island was selected for a reason because it was the same place where Peter I originally planned to make the centre of the future capital which was designed as a regular port city. At the beginning of the 18th century a unique and privileged population began to settle down at the island. It consisted of nobles, merchants, academics, artists and technicians, mostly foreigners, resulting in a religious tolerance amongst islanders. It was only in the middle of the 18th century when it had become evident that it would be impossible to preserve the administrative centre of the capital at the island due to its isolation and the city’s centre was moved to the Neva’s left bank where it remains as such until now. The Menshikov Palace was not only a residential but also an administrative building. Menshikov used to hold diplomatic receptions, various meetings and assemblies in the palace.

Almost all the city’s architects took part in the construction of the palace for the Duke. The front façade was accented with a portico made of wooden pillars. There was a gallery-balcony above the portico where the orchestra which was greeting the visitors coming to the city by the river was placed. The grand entrance hall amazed the guests with its solemn and elegant look. Working premises and workshops were situated on the first floor of the building. The second floor was occupied by Menshikov’s family. Following Menshikov’s fall from grace and exile the Palace passed to the State Treasury.

The building was handed over to the Cadet Corps in 1731 in order to train military officers. Today the Menshikov Palace hosts the museum exposition comprising of objects and utensils of the Petrine era (the State Hermitage branch). The following items particularly stand out in the palace interiors: the Walnut room – a cabinet with walls covered with walnut; the magnificent suite of ceremonial rooms, the Big Chamber with a 17th century trellis and objects of applied and decorative acts and many other things. Tour to st Petersburg