The Marble Palace is one of the first Neoclassical palaces in St. Petersburg. It is located in the northwest corner of the Suvorov Square near the Fields of Mars. Designed by Antonio Rinaldi, it was completed between 1768 and 1785.
Marble Palace - View from the Neva at night
Marble Palace - Watercolors, an unknown artist
Marble Palace - Watercolors by Sadovnikov, 19th century
The palace was built originally for the favorite of Catherine II, before she ascended the throne - Gregory Orloff (alternative spelling: Grigorii Orlov), who took an active part in the coup d'etat that put her on the throne.
The palace facades are relatively modest and laconic in design: the walls are faced with gray Siberian granite, the first and second floors are decorated with Corinthian pilasters hewn from pale pink marble imported from Karelia. The walls of the Marble Hall are made of marble of various colors and hues: gray, white, blue, green, and pink.
The décor of the main façade, overlooking the forecourt, is largely executed in the Baroque style.
Out of halls blazing with light and colour you passed into low galleries; then into bedchambers hung with rich tapestries; then into alcoves surrounded with gorgeous flowers; then into corridors where fountains sparkled brightly; and then again into new ranges of halls, each more splendid than the last which you had traversed.
A month in Russia, Edward James S. Dicey, 1867
Next in rank is the Marble Palace; it forms a quadrangle, and at one extreme are two projecting wings. The main front has a spacious court, bound by the manege of the palace. This gigantic pile is composed of three stories, and the general effect is in a high degree magnificent: the basement is of granite, the superstructure of gray marble, decorated with columns and pilasters of red marble; the roof is supported by iron bars, and is covered with sheet-copper; the window-frames are of brass richly gilt, and the balconies of the same material. The marble and metallic ornaments meet the eye in every direction, and call to the mind of the astonished spectator the oriental tales of golden palaces; but when the first paroxysm of admiration has subsided, and time is allowed to survey the edifice with the eye of an artist, he observes some defects. The colour of the marble is too dark, and the general character is too ponderous. The principle facade ought certainly to have been erected toward the Neva, from whose shores it would have risen like a splendid temple dedicated to the gods of this imperial river.
A descriptive and historical account of various Palaces and public buildings, J. Brewer, 1821
An elegant fence surrounds the forecourt. On the eastern side of the court stands a building constructed in the 1780’s and rebuilt in the 1840’s by Alexander Bryullov. Its western façade is decorated with a frieze by Pyotr Klodt.
The Marble Palace is one of the finest specimen of Neoclassical architecture in Saint Petersburg and a powerful testament to the Catherine Age.