Source Pravda.Ru

Rastrelli's masterpiece in Catherine Palace opens after restoration

The first antechamber, the grand hall of Rastrelli's golden enfilade, will open after the restoration of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (formerly Pushkin), a suburb of St. Petersburg, said a press service from the Tsarskoye Selo state museum-reserve.

The restoration began 15 years ago and the antechamber has been closed to visitors for many years.

The three antechambers in front of the audience hall were considered decorations of the Catherine Palace, which was built from 1752 to 1757 by architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771).

All the three halls were decorated with carved columns and pilasters, inlaid parquet flooring, gilding, tiled stoves and fireplaces. The plafond "Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne" painted by Pietro and Francesco Gradizzi added to the luxury of the first antechamber.

At first, distinguished guests waited for an audience with czars in the antechambers. Later one of the rooms was transformed into a billiard room where Czarina Catherine II used to play. In the beginning of the 20th century, a gym for the children of last Russian Czar Nicholas II was built in one of the antechambers.

Amateur performances, for instance, Fonvizin's "The Brigadier," were held in the first antechamber, which will open after the restoration. Court actors sang opera arias here as well.

In 1941, during World War II, all the three antechambers were completely destroyed. The interior, the decorations and the ceilings were burned in a fire.

Only the rafters and attic floors were restored in 1953-1956. At that time, the first antechamber was divided into two-stories, which were used by the Naval School.

The restoration work on the antechambers began in 1988. The decorations of the first antechamber, including the plafond, have been already restored. Alexander Kedrinsky is the director of the restoration project.

The other antechambers are still being restored.