The former palatial home of a Russian tsar will reopen to visitors next summer after a renovation programme costing two billion rubles (US$31 million). Alexander Palace in St Petersburg was the last home of the emperor Nicholas II. The neoclassical palace was designed by architect Giacomo Quarenghi and was built between 1792 and 1796. 

Alexander Palace in Russia with its reflection in a lake
Alexander Palace was the last home of the emperor Nicholas II © Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

In August 1917, the tsar and his family were sent into exile from the palace to Tobolsk in Siberia, and he and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna were executed, along with their family and servants, in 1918. During World War II, Alexander Palace was used to house the military command and a prison, and the courtyard was used as a cemetery for SS soldiers. After the war, the palace was used as a depot for artworks coming back into the area.

Alexander Palace in St Petersburg, Russia
Alexander Palace was used to house the military command during World War II © Ksenia Elzes/Lonely Planet

After Russia received financial support from other nations, work began in the 1990s to turn Alexander Palace into a state museum. A permanent exhibition was opened dedicated to the Russian Imperial Family in 1997, and the three largest public rooms in the middle wing were partially restored. The palace has been under renovation since 2012, and is overseen by the Tsarskoe Selo State Museum.

Exterior of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood on the Griboyedov during the evening.
The palace is located in St Petersburg, Russia © Tomas Sereda/Getty Images

In 2014, the Russian government allocated funding to enable a more complete and authentic renovation to take place. The palace has been closed for the past three years as its floors, tapestries and ceilings are in the process of being revamped. The first eight rooms are due to reopen in the summer of 2020, including the Mauve Boudoir, Alexandra Feodorovna’s favourite room, and the tsar’s bathing chamber, which was designed in the Moorish style. It is anticipated that the work will be complete in 2021, and the palace museum will be fully reopened.

Explore related stories

Diverse group of smiling teenage female friends with protest signs taking a selfie with a smart phone during a women's rights march

International Women's Day 2022: Celebrate around the world with these events

Mar 1, 2022 • 3 min read