Marble palaceZamir Usmanov/GlobalLookPress
Anichkov Palace / Wikipedia
The Anichkov Palace in St. Petersburg, built and decorated by Russian and Italian architects Mikhail Zemtsov and Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, first belonged to Alexei Razumovsky, a favorite and unofficial spouse of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, who presented the manor to him in 1757. After his death in 1771, the mansion was later bought by Catherine the Great and presented to her lover Grigory Potemkin, who employed architect Ivan Starov to refashion the building.
The Gatchina Palace / Konstantin Kokoshkin / Global Look Press
The Gatchina Palace, located 45 km from St. Petersburg, was built by the Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi for Count Grigory Orlov, the favorite of Empress Catherine II. In 1765 Orlov received the estate as a present from the Empress, but did not have long to enjoy the finished mansion, dying in 1783, just two years after construction was completed. Later on, the Empress bought the estate back from Orlov’s heir and presented it to her son, Grand Duke Paul I Petrovich. It was his favorite estate from that day forth.
The Marble Palace / Zamir Usmanov / Global Look Press
Another mansion that Catherine II presented Orlov was the Marble Palace, which had been planned to be constructed not far from the imperial residence by another Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi. Yet the Empress’s lover didn’t live to see the results of Rinaldi’s work. After Orlov’s death, Catherine bought and presented it to her grandson Konstantin Pavlovich. Today the building hosts the State Russian Museum.
The Bobrinsky Palace / GoogleMaps
This manor facing the Admiralty Canal Embankment in St. Petersburg now hosts one of the faculties of St. Petersburg State University, but its beginnings can be traced back to the end of the 18th century. Empress Catherine II presented the mansion to her favorite Platon Zubov, who was 40 years younger than her. After Paul I inherited the throne, the mansion was given to Count Alexei Bobrinsky, an unofficial child of Catherine II and Grigory Orlov. From then on, the palace was owned by the Bobrinsky family.
Anna Lopukhina’s mansion / GoogleMaps
A favorite of Paul I, Anna Lopukhina lived in Moscow but was destined to move to St. Petersburg on her lover’s request. The Emperor wanted to see her as often as possible, so in 1798 he bought her a manor on the Neva embankment previously owned by Admiral Osip de Ribas. When Anna got married (Paul I basically arranged her marriage to her childhood love Paul Gagarin), she also received a neighboring building from the Emperor as a wedding gift. Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi combined the two buildings into a single two-storey mansion with a hanging garden.
Mathilde Kschessinska’s mansion / GoogleMaps
In 1892 the future Tsar Nicholas II bought a mansion on the English Avenue in St. Petersburg for his lover – ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska. This two-storey building with a small garden and a stable was her home till 1906. When her romance with the Tsar came to an end, she decided to leave the house and built a new manor on the corner of Kronversky Prospekt and Bolshaya Dvoryanskaya Street in St. Petersburg. As she recalled in her memoirs, it was hard for her to leave the house in which she had spent so many happy days, but at the same time she couldn’t stay, because everything there reminded her of “Niki.”
If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
to our newsletter!
Get the week's best stories straight to your inbox