May 10

The Winter Palace (Palatul de Iarna, Kremlin)

The Winter Palace was constructed between 1754 and 1762 and served the purpose of winter residence for the Russian Tsars – this is the reason for which the edifice bears this name.

The architect behind the project was Bartolomeo Rastrelli who designed the edifice in a Baroque style. The vividly colored palace (in green and white) has a total of 1.786 doors and 1.945 windows, 1.500 chambers and 117 staircases, so you can only imagine the immensity of the Winter Palace.



The Winter Palace has a quadrilateral structure, measuring 30 m in height and 250 m in length (the main façade). The exterior is still reflexive of the palace which was originally constructed, but the interior design has suffered modifications – nowadays different styles can be noticed within the chambers. Because of this, Budberg defined the edifice as a “19th-century palace inspired by a model in Rococo style.”


The edifice was the property of the Russian monarchs until 1917, when the population sieged the Winter Palace during the Russian Revolution. At this point, the edifice became the site for the Russian Temporary Government. But the palace once more changes hands as the Bolshevik forces begin their assault on the edifice, this action marking the beginning of the Socialist Revolution which took place in October, 1917.


Nowadays, the palace is part of the Hermitage Museum Complex which contains one of the largest collections of art from all over the world.

The palace underwent several renovation works throughout time. In fact, the edifice which presents itself in front of our eyes at present, is the forth “version” of the original Winter Palace.  In the later part of the 1730s, a fire of massive proportions took hold of the construction causing severe damages.

The Russian Tsar immediately gave order for the edifice to be “resurrected”, but the work was not complete until 1837, as constant transformations were inflicted. The palace was mean to accurately represent the strength and authority of Imperial Russia and it is precisely because of this that the palace has been designed at an epic scale.


Another event of high importance occurred in 1905 when a mass of protesters headed towards the Winter Palace with one purpose in mind – to shed the blood of the royal family. But the monarchs were no longer using the palace as dwelling, seeking retreat in a safer place where they could not fall to the angry hands of the demonstrators. But nevertheless, history recorded a bloodbath in that day – an event which has ever since been known as the Bloody Sunday Massacre.


The exterior of the Winter Palace consists of artistically crafted statues and stuccos which adorn the façades. The public had always been allowed to visit the main façades; it was the lateral ones which were not visible to the eye. These were veiled by massive stone walls and contained a beautiful garden in between them.


The main reception ballroom is the Nicholas Hall, named after Tsar Nicholas II. The interior design is distinguishable thought the tall windows which are separated one from the other by means of pillars. In fact, the palace has a multitude of porches, these being the only architectural designs that interfere with the otherwise symmetrical décor of the tall windows.

One thing that has changed constantly throughout time is the color in which the edifice was painted. The dual coloration mentioned previously (white and green) was conveyed during the improvement work conducted after WWII. The edifice was painted in green, while white was used to bring out the sculptural pieces and other objects of décor. Previously, the Winter Palace was painted in a paler shade of red.


As it has been said, the interior design combines a mixture of styles, manly Baroque and Neoclassical, with a hint of Rococo (as much as it was preserved during the constant renovations). There are only two elements in the entire place which have been preserved in their original form: the Jordan Staircase and the Grand Church.

The alterations conducted can be explained through the fact that Empress Catherine the Great (also known as Catherine II) was always following the latest trends and wanted to dwell in a modern palace which was accurately depicting the newest and most fashionable architectural styles. It is because of this that traces of Western Europe have managed to find their way to Sankt Petersburg.


Whether or not these modifications were to the detriment of the palace is debatable as each work has contributed to a certain extend to the rename conveyed at present to the Winter Palace. The “monument” palace has reached this status precisely due to the architectural and decorative transformations underwent by the edifice under different Russian monarchs.

Apr 19

Hofburg Imperial Palace (Palatul Imperial Hofburg)

Hofburg Imperial Palace is situated in Vienna, one of the most beautiful European capitals, and it has been the residence of some of the most important figures in the history of Austria.


The Hofburg Palace was the epicenter of the Habsburg Empire for more than 600 years. Throughout time it has evolved into one of the most valuable historical centers in all of Europe.


The Habsburg ruling began in the 13th century, at first there were the reigns of the Austrian region and from 1452, the emperors of the Roman Holy Empire.  When the monarchy was installed in 1806, they became emperors of Austria, a title kept until the regime fell in 1918.

The palace was initially a fortress, but it has changed throughout time as each emperor conducted further extension work on the edifice. At present, the asymmetrical construction has a surface of 240.000 sq. ft. and it has an impressive structure, comprising 19 interior courts, 18 wings, and 2.600 rooms. The palace still houses almost 5.000 people who work or live here.


Important historical events took place within these walls. For example, it was here where the emperor Joseph II came up with the revolutionary plan for the reform, where the Vienna Congress organized meetings, where lavish receptions and balls were organized and where the emperor Franz Joseph received important people.

Now, the Hofburg Palace holds the official office of the President of Austria, of the Prime Minister, as well as of the other ministers of the state.

The immense edifice has an impressive architecture where different styles can be noticed: from the Gothic style to the Art Nouveau style – and it is only natural for the palace to be architectonically diversified taking into account the different periods of time it passed through and the interventions performed by all the rulers of Austria.

Tourists have the possibility to walk through the private rooms where the emperor Franz Joseph and the empress Elizabeth lived, or to visit the common room and admire the beautiful design and decoration of the edifice.



This is a wing named after Amalie Wilhelmine, the widow of Joseph I. This section of the building, which was created as the dwelling of Rudolf II, is reflective of the late Renaissance style. Some of the elements which are noteworthy in this wing are the tower with the dome and the astronomical clock which adorns the front of the building.

Swiss Wing

This section follows the Renaissance architectural design and it is renowned for the Swiss Gate which is colored in red and black. On this gate, tourists can admire the emblem of the Order of the Golden Fleece and they can find out what titles bore Ferdinand I, as all of them are on display here.


 Imperial Library

Initially, this building was not part of the Hofburg Palace. The library, placed on the other side of the ensemble, was constructed on the orders of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, but it was his son Joseph Emanuel who completed the work in 1735.

Tourists can admire the artistically created fresco which covers the ceiling of the hall (done by Daniel Gran) and the sculptures made by Paul Strudel which represent the Habsburg emperors. These pieces of art make the Imperial Library one of the most significant artistic statements in Austria.


Lorenzo Mattielli was the artist to adorn the exterior of the edifice with Attika statues. These are situated as follows: Pallas Athena, riding a chariot drawn by four horses, reigns over the main entrance, Atlas is situated on the roof (on the left side) and it is represented carrying the celestial globe and having the allegories of Astrology and Astronomy by his side. Also on the roof, but opposed to Atlas, lays Gaia, carrying the terrestrial globe and having Geometry on one side and Geography on the next.

These are only three of the buildings which can be visited inside the Hofburg Imperial Palace. People going to Vienna should not pass the opportunity to visit this place where history and art blend and form a luxurious edifice.

Hofburg is opened every day of the week in the interval:

  • 9:00 – 17:30 (September – June)
  • 9:00 – 18:00 (July – August)



There are four types of tickets you can buy, depending on the places you wish to get access to:

1. The Hofburg ticket allows you to visit the imperial suits, the silver collection and the Sisi Museum. The price depends on the age of the visitor:

  • Adults: 9,90 euros;
  • Children aged 6 to 18: 5,90 euros;
  • Students aged 19 to 25: 8,90 euros;
  • Groups of children aged 6 to 18: 4,90 euros.


2.The Sisi ticket provides access to three tourist attractions: the Hofburg Palace, Schonbrunn Palace (access to 40 rooms), and the collection of imperial furniture. You will also be spared of having to wait in line in order to get access in the palace. The price of the ticket:

  • Adults: 22,50 euros;
  • Children aged 6 to 18: 13,50 euros;
  • Students aged 19 to 25: 20 euros;
  • Groups of children aged 6 to 18: 11,50 euros.


3. The ticket for the silver collection: 2,5 euros;

4. The ticket for the imperial suits includes access to the private apartments of Franz Joseph I and the Empress Elizabeth. The price for the ticket is:

  • Adults: 12,40 euros;
  • Children aged 6 to 18: 6,90 euros;
  • Students aged 19 to 25: 11,40 euros;
  • Groups of children aged 6 to 8: 5,90 euros.


Tourist will benefit of an audio guide which is available in 8 languages of international circulation: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Magyar, Japanese and the Czech language.