Image by Ksenia Elzes Lonely Planet
One of the most tragic and mysterious characters in the Romanov royal family, emperor Paul I was intensely disliked by his own courtiers, who eventually strangled him with a scarf. Whatever historians say about him, however, he had great taste, as displayed in this glorious palace, the finest rooms of which are on the middle floor of the central block.
Charles Cameron designed the round Italian Hall beneath the dome and the Grecian Hall to its west, though the lovely green fluted columns were added by his assistant Vincenzo Brenna. Flanking these are two private suites designed mainly by Brenna – Paul’s along the north side of the block and Maria Fyodorovna’s on the south.
The Hall of War of the military-obsessed Paul contrasts with Maria’s Hall of Peace, decorated with musical instruments and flowers. On the middle floor of the south block are Paul’s Throne Room and the Hall of the Maltese Knights of St John, of whom he was the Grand Master.