Mikhailovsky Castle

Mikhailovsky Castle information

St Petersburg , Russia
Address
Street Sadovaya ul 2
Getting there
metro Gostiny Dvor
More information
www.rusmuseum.ru
Prices
adult/student R300/150
Opening hours
10am-6pm Wed & Fri-Sun, 10am-5pm Mon, 1-9pm Thu
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Lonely Planet review

A branch of the Russian Museum, the castle is worth visiting for its temporary exhibits, permanent display of art by foreigners working in Russia in the 18th and early 19th centuries as well as a few finely restored state rooms, including the lavish burgundy throne room of Tsar Paul I’s wife Maria Fyodorovna.

Rastrelli’s original fairy-tale wooden palace for Empress Elizabeth was knocked down in the 1790s to make way for this bulky edifice, a bizarre take on a medieval castle, quite unlike any other building in the city.

The son of Catherine the Great, Tsar Paul I, was born in the wooden palace and he wanted his own residence on the same spot. He specified a defensive moat as he (quite rightly) feared assassination. But this erratic, cruel tsar only got 40 days in his new abode before he was suffocated in his bedroom in 1801.

In 1823 the palace became a military engineering school (hence its Soviet-era name, Engineer’s Castle, or Inzhenerny Zamok), whose most famous pupil was Fyodor Dostoevsky.