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Anniversary news, 05.06.2003 15:28

New entrance to the Hermitage Winter Palace courtyard and garden

New entrance to the Hermitage Winter Palace courtyard and garden On 27 May the Winter Palace courtyard and the new entrance to the Hermitage from Palace Square were opened after restoration.

Since the time of its creation, the Winter Palace Courtyard of about 11,000 sq.m served as entrance to the Imperial Residence. In summer it received carriages, in winter, sledges. In the age of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the architect of the Winter Palace, the Courtyard accommodated both carriages and the Imperial Guards. It is known that for almost a century the Courtyard was paved with cobble-stones, like Palace Square. In the second half of the 19th century, when the Palace was redesigned by architect N.A. Gornostayev, the Courtyard was reconstructed. The wooden gate facing the square was replaced with a metal one and trees were planted in the center. The rectangular garden with rounded corners was surrounded with a granite socle with four staired entrances. Trees lined the longer sides. The Finnish-granite fountain at the crossing of the basic and auxiliary axes was designed by sculptor G.I. Botta. After the 1917 revolution, the Courtyard, which no longer played its part in the Imperial Family’s ceremonial life, fell into neglect.

The idea of the main entrance to the museum from Palace Square through the Winter Palace Courtyard was first voiced in 1994. The project of the Main Entrance reconstruction and restoration was ready in 2000, including works at the Winter Palace gate, courtyard and garden. The reconstruction project for the Courtyard which took into account this area’s new functions was prepared by Danish architect Professor Sven-Ingvar Andersson, landscaping specialist. According to the project, the basic function of the Winter Palace Courtyard is both to provide a convenient passage from the Palace Square gate to the new entrance at the opposite (northern) courtyard side and serve as a venue for concerts and performances for an audience of up to 5 thousand.

The Courtyard level has been lowered, two flagstone-paved pathways have been made, and rainwater ducts were paved with cobble-stones. The area between the granite curb and flagstone pathways is paved with cobble-stones, between the granite pathways and the facades, with cobble-stones; the surface between the facades and the rainwater ducts is slightly inclined; the areas between the main entrance and the granite pathways are coated with smaller granite plates. Contours of the foundations of the palaces which stood there in the past can now be seen in the Winter Palace Courtyard.

The reconstruction of the Winter Palace Courtyard was sponsored by DANSEE representing the Danish Ministry of Environment and Power. The Danish contribution to this project is Denmark’s official gift to the Hermitage for the Jubilee of St. Petersburg. Manager of the project was Ye.A. Obolentseva of the Hermitage Construction Department.

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(c) 2000