St. Petersburg was built by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, to be the new capital of the Russian Empire. Consequently, it is full of stunning imperial Russian architecture and is one of the most popular places to visit in all of Russia. One of the most famous buildings is the Winter Palace - it served as the official residence of the Russian Tsars (Emperors) from 1732 to 1917. Today is it open to the public and forms the Hermitage Museum.

The Winter Palace is green and white and is in the shape of an elongated rectangle. When visiting Russia, one should always visit both Moscow and St. Petersburg as they are both magnificent in different ways.

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Background Of The Winter Palace

The Winter Palace is between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, and it is next to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace. It was severely damaged by a fire and immediately rebuilt in 1837 and continued to serve the Tsars up until they were deposed (and then shot) in 1917. It became a symbol of the Russian Revolution.

The Winter Palace was witness to the Bloody Sunday Massacre on Palace Square in 1905. This was a time of revolutionary fever, incompetent rule, and a disastrous Russian defeat at the hands of the emerging Japanese Empire. While the revolt was put down, the Tsar was overthrown later on in 1917 during World War One.

Tsar Nicholas II was not responsible for this seminal tragedy where thousands of striking workers had come to meet the Tsar in a peaceful protest where the re-enforced contingent of troops fired at will. By this time the Tsar did not live in the palace but the event marked the beginning of the end of the Russian Empire and the Imperial family.

  • Stormed: The Bolshevik Led Revolutionary Forces Besieged And Stormed The Palace in October 1917
  • Aftermath: In The Aftermath With The Ensuing Anarchy, Must Of The Winter Palace's Riches Were Ransacked

Related: What You Need To Know Before Visiting The Opulent Palace Of Versailles

Winter Palace in Numbers

The Winter Palace is massive as it was built on a monumental scale that aimed to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. At the time, the Russian Empire spanned around a sixth of all the Earth's landmass. One of the principal architects involved in its design was the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Still, one thing the Tsars couldn't improve was the weather. St. Petersberg is humidly cold in the winter - making it bitingly cold without actually being very cold. It is not a place one would like to spend the winter!

  • Principal Facade: 215 Meters or 705 Feet Long, 30 Meters or 98 Feet High
  • Doors: Calculated To Have 1,886 Doors
  • Windows: Has 1,945 Windows
  • Rooms: 1,500 Rooms
  • Staircases: 117 Staircases

The Winter Palace is easily St. Petersburg's most famous building. The palace without the facade is 22 meters hire and local planning regulations prevent any other building in the city center from rising higher than the palace ever since it was built.

Visiting The Winter Palace

Today everyone can (and should) visit this work of opulence that has been a museum since the revolution in 1917. It is operated by the Russian State Hermitage Museum.

Ticket Price:

  • Foreigners: 800 Rubles ($10.50)
  • Russian And Belarus Citizens: 400 Rubles ($5.00)

Opening Hours:

  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays: 11 AM – 6 PM
  • Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: 11 AM – 8 PM
  • Closed: On Mondays, January 1 and May 9

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Related: This UNESCO Site Is Said To Be Britain's Greatest Palace (And It's Open To The Public)

Skip-the-Line Tour of Winter Palace (Hermitage) & Catherine's Palace: It seems that the museum does not offer guided tours on its website (at least in English). One private third-party tour of the Winter Palace is the Skip-the-Line Tour and it discovers both the Winter Palace and Catherine's Palace.

Exploring the palace with a guide really brings the whole palace to life and is one of the best ways to really understand the history of this stunning building. The tour also enables one to skip the long lines and have priority admission to both of the palaces enabling one to visit both on the same day.

  • Duration: 8 Hours (Approx.)
  • Pickup: Hotel Pickup is Offered
  • Language: Offered in English And 4 Other Languages
  • Cost: From $265

Virtual Tours: For those unable to visit the stunning Winter Palace, the Heritage Museum offers virtual tours of the massive complex. It has some 705 panoramas on its website for the Main Museum Complex along.

It also has virtual tours for the General Staff Building, the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, The Menshikov Palace, the Hermitage Theatre, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, and much more.

Virtual travel is becoming more and more popular (especially with the pandemic) and there are some things to know about virtual traveling from one's own house.

Next: Myth & Legend: Exploring Russia's Strange 'City Of The Dead'