Vasily Surikov. 175th Anniversary of the Artist's Birth
The State Russian Museum

Vasily Surikov. 175th Anniversary of the Artist's Birth

1 December 2023—10 June 2024

The exhibition presents over 120 paintings and graphic works by Surikov from the museums in St Petersburg, Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, including th...


Drawings and Watercolours by the Wanderers
St Michael’s Castle

Drawings and Watercolours by the Wanderers

21 March—8 July 2024

The exhibition presents graphic works created by the founders of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions, as well as by artists of the younger generation...

Master of Painting. 325th Anniversary of Ivan Vishnyakov’s Birth
St Michael’s Castle

Master of Painting. 325th Anniversary of Ivan Vishnyakov’s Birth

26 April—1 July 2024

Ivan Vishnyakov is one of the leading artist of the 18th century, portraitist, mural painter, restorer and teacher. However, not much ...

Olga Rozanova (1886–1918): An Art Revolutionary
Marble Palace

Olga Rozanova (1886–1918): An Art Revolutionary

16 May—2 September 2024

Olga Rozanova's retrospective exhibition at the Russian Museum comprises art works from different collections. It will feature about 50 paintings ...

Still Lifes of the 1920s and 1930s
Benois Wing

Still Lifes of the 1920s and 1930s

22 May—30 July 2024

The exhibition Still Lifes of the 1920s and 1930s introduces the viewers to little-known artists, including Vladimir Avlas, Vladimir Grinberg, Anatoly Gusyatinsky...

Gift to the Russian Museum from Vladimir Nekrasov
Benois Wing

Gift to the Russian Museum from Vladimir Nekrasov

29 May—1 July 2024

Vladimir Nekrasov’s collection of Russian fine art is the largest in the country. The exhibition will feature a significant part of more than six h...

“He Conquered Both Time and Space...” 225th Anniversary of Alexander Pushkin’s Birth
Stroganov Palace

“He Conquered Both Time and Space...” 225th Anniversary of Alexander Pushkin’s Birth

7 June 2024—25 January 2025

This is the first ever large-scale exhibition held in the Russian Museum to address the genius of Russian and wor...

Opening hours
St Michael’s Castle

Monday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Mikhailovsky Palace, Benois Wing are open until 8:p.m.
Tuesday The Museum is closed
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Ticket offices close 30 minutes earlier

Getting here

2 Sadovaya Str., St. Petersburg

Metro - Gostiny Dvor, Nevsky Prospekt


The St. Michael’s Castle is a great architectural monument and the culmination in the history of St Petersburg architecture of the XVIII century. It was erected on the site of the Summer Palace of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (architect Rastrelli, 1740s), which was dismantled by order of Emperor Pavel I after the death of his mother — Catherine II. The original idea of the castle belonged to Pavel himself and the first sketches were made by him. The construction of his future residence started in 1784. During the construction, which took almost 12 years, the Grand Duke referred to various architectural monuments that he had seen on his trip abroad in 1781-1782. Several architects worked on the project at different stages — H.-F.-G. Viollier, V. Brenna, V.I. Bazhenov. One of the potential sites for the new palace was Gatchina.

Catherine II’s son only managed to implement his plan after he came to the throne in November 1796. A solemn ceremony of laying the foundation of the castle took place on February 28, 1797. The construction was managed by architect Brenna, who amended the original project and designed the interiors. On November 8, 1800, on the day of Saint Archangel Mikhail, the castle was consecrated, however, the work on its interiors continued until March 1801.

Distinctive design of the building, combining conflicting architectural trends and stylistic features, makes it stand out in the history of Russian Classicism. However, it is the St. Michael’s Castle  that is considered to be the most significant symbol of Pavel’s era, clearly reflecting the artistic taste and the peculiar personality of its owner and principal creator — Emperor Pavel I. The immense size of the “palace of Saint Mikhail” (as the castle was referred to in the documents of the XVIII century), dominated the island lapped by the waters of the Moika and the Fontanka rivers from the northern and the eastern sides. On the western and the southern sides there were two specially dug canals — Resurrection Canal and Church Canal. The system of the castle fortifications, surrounding the palace and Connetable Square in front of it, included canals, demi-bastions, drawbridges and cannons. In the centre of the square was a monument to Peter I, designed in 1745-1747 after a model by B.C. Rastrelli made in the lifetime of the outstanding great-grandfather of Pavel I.

The St. Michael’s Castle was the Emperor’s residence only for 40 days. On the night of March 12, 1801, Emperor Pavel I was assassinated in his bedroom, falling victim to a palace coup. Soon after, all valuables were transferred from the castle, and the state rooms were used by different administrative institutions some were even turned into apartments.

In the early 1820s the building was handed over to the Central College of Engineering. In February 1823 it was named Engineers’ Castle. After the death of Emperor Nicholas I, the patron of the college, the institution became known as Nicholaevsky Academy and College of Engineering. Many prominent Russians were lecturers or graduates of this academy, among them: writers F.M. Dostoevsky and D.V. Grigorovich, scientists I.M. Sechenov and P.N. Yablochkov, composer T.A.Kui, the hero of the Sebastopol War E.I. Totleben, and many others.

For two centuries, as the building accommodated military and academic institutions (and, later, different Soviet institutions), the layout of the ensemble was changed multiple times, with structures rebuilt and interiors redesigned.

In 1991 the St. Michael’s Castle became part of the State Russian Museum.

The ensemble of the St. Michael’s Castle includes two pavilions located on Inzhenernaya St.
In the Eastern Pavilion (10 Inzhenernaya St.) is placed the department of the State Russian Museum "The Russian Centre of the Museum Pedagogy and Children’s Creativity".
In the Western Pavilion (8 Inzhenernaya St.) is opened the Multimedia Centre of the State Russian Museum with the exhibition "Our Romantic Emperor". Also here is located the department "The Russian Museum: the virtual branch" and on-line lecture hall

Architecture and interiors

The palace design is centred around a square with rounded corners, with a rectangle of the ceremonial courtyard inside. Each facade has its own “face”, making the building particularly picturesque and allowing a diversity of views from different angles. Despite that, the palace produces an integral impression due to the common granite plinth, cornice, and uniform decorative elements.

The main facade is particularly solemn and monumental. A powerful element of its design are two marble obelisks decorated with military symbols and gilt monograms of Pavel I. There is a bas-relief in the tympanum of the pediment called “History noting down the glory of Russia in its records”, designed by the Stagi brothers. There is an inscription on the cornice above the pediment which is a variation on the last lines of Psalm 92 in the Bible: “Your house will flourish in the courts of our God”.

The northern facade facing the Summer Garden has a completely different design. Its sculptural decoration, a wide gently rising staircase, the colonnade and the balcony are traditional elements of a facade overlooking the garden, referring to its connection with nature.

The eastern facade overlooking the Fontanka has a semi-circular protrusion in the wall, topped by a steepled turret complete with flagpole, which flew the imperial banner signifying Pavel I’s presence in the castle. Its modest design matches the facades of the “particular” houses on the opposite bank of the Fontanka.

The design of the western (church) facade particularly reflects architect Brenna’s talent for abundant and spectacular decoration, which attracted Pavel. The church’s straight lines are interrupted by a large protrusion in the centre of the wall, and the sculptural decoration signifies the religious role of this structure.

The interiors of the St. Michael’s Castle were referred to by contemporaries as “the epitome of luxury and taste”. Among the designers were monumental painters P., C. and J. Scotti, A. Vigi, J. Mettenleiter, sculptors C. Albani, I.P. Prokofiev, P.I. Sokolov, artists I.A. Akimov, A.M. Ivanov, and others. Similarly to many other palaces of the aristocracy of that time, the castle served both the main residence of the royal family and as an art gallery accommodating collections of Ancient, Western- European and Russia art. The suite of state rooms, comprising the Antique Room, Rafael’s Gallery, Laocoon Gallery, and the Arabesque Gallery, were located along the perimeter of the courtyard and accommodated world class works of art from Pavel I’s collection. Many elements of interior design were based on sketches by Vincenzo Brenna and his young apprentice Carlo Rossi.


Emperor Pavel I (20.09.1754 — 12.03.1801), the son of Peter III Fyodorovich (the grandson of Peter I, born Carl-Peter-Ulrich Holstein-Gottorp) and Catherine II Alexeevna (born Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst). In 1761 he was announced to be the heir to the throne, from 1762 — the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. On ascending to the throne, in 1762 Catherine II promoted Pavel Petrovich to the rank of General-Admiral and the Colonel of Kirasir regiment named after him. In 1773 on behalf of her son, according to the Tsarskoe Selo Agreement, Catherine exchanged Schleswig and Holstein for Oldenburg (that had originally belonged to Denmark). That same year Pavel confirmed handing this region (along with the title of the Duke of Oldenburg) over to his relative, the Bishop of Lubek Friedrich-August, who represented the younger line of Holstein family. At the same time Pavel kept the title of Duke and the right to the throne of Oldenburg to maintain the lineage.

September 29, 1773 Pavel married the Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeevna 14.06.1755 — 15.04.1776), born Princess of Hessen-Darmstadt, who died in childbirth. The child was also stillborn.

On September 26, 1776 Pavel married Maia Fyodorovna (14.10.1759 — 24.10.1828), born Princess of Wurttemberg.

Pavel was well-educated, had a profound knowledge of sciences, including military tactics and state governance. He loved music, theatre, and architecture; but in the time of Catherine he took very little part in state issues.

Pavel I ascended to the throne after Catherine II’s death (November 6, 1796). He was crowned on April 5, 1797. He was the Grandmaster of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (the Maltese Order). Many of Pavel’s reforms were resented by society, and consolidation of autocracy was perceived by the aristocracy as a sign of tyranny and a threat to their independence. This became the main reason for a conspiracy against the Emperor. He was assassinated by the conspirators on the night of March 12, 1801, in the St. Michael’s Castle in his own bedroom, located in the north-western part of the first floor of the building.

Empress Maria Fyodorovna (14.10.1759 — 24.10.1828), the second wife of Pavel Petrovich (from 1776). Born Princess Sofia-Dorothea-Augusta-Louisa Of Wurttemberg, the daughter of the Duke Friedrich-Eugene of Wurttemberg-Montbeliard and Frederica-Dorothea-Sofia, born Countess Brandenburg-Swedish. She arrived in Russia in 1776 and adopted Orthodoxy. She had ten children with Pavel I — four sons (two of whom were later crowned Emperors) and six daughters. Maria Fyodorovna had extraordinary artistic talents — she loved drawing, stone, ivory and amber carving, took interest in medalist art, and played the piano. One of her pet subjects was botany.

All her life Maria did charity work, particularly in regard to orphanages. She made a large contribution to female education in Russia. Demanding to others, Maria was no less demanding to herself, and was strictly adherent to her own rules and principles.

Her rooms in the St. Michael’s Castle were located in the northern part of the first floor, overlooking the Summer Garden.

The children of Pavel and Maria

Alexander Pavlovich (12.12.1777 — 19.11.1825). He was announced the heir to the throne on November 6, 1796. He became Emperor on March 12, 1801, crowned on September 15, 1801.

From September 28, 1793 was married to Eliaveta Alexeevna (13.01.1779 — 04.05.1826), born Princess Louisa-Maria-Augusta of Baden-Durlach.

His set of rooms in the St. Michael’s Castle was located in the north-eastern corner of the ground floor.

Konstantin Pavlovich (27.04.1779 — 15.06.1831), the Grand Duke, Crown Prince.

For his participation in the Italian and Swiss campaigns of Suvorov (1799) he was promoted to the title of General-Inspector of the Cavalry and titled Crown Prince. Was the commander of the Guards During the Russian-French Napoleonic Wars in 1805-1807 and 1812-1814. From 1814 Konstantin was the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army and the governor-general of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1822 Konstantin abdicated his rights to the Russian throne.

First marriage from February 15, 1796, to Grand Duchess Anna Fyodorovna, born Princess Julia-Henrietta Ulrica of Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld (11.09.1781 — 31.07.1860), who left Russia in 1801. Officially divorced on March 20, 1820.

Second (morganatic) marriage from December 5, 1820 with Joanna (Jeanette) Antonovna, Princess Lovich (17.05.1795 — 11.17.1831), born Countess Grudzinskaya.

In 1806 — 1820 — civil marriage with Josephine, born Lemercier, Friedrichs by the first marriage, who, after being granted a Russian noble title in 1816, called herself Ulyana Mikhailovna Alexandrova, Weiss by the second marriage (1820). She died in 1824.

Constantine’s set of rooms in the St. Michael’s Castle occupied the south-eastern corner of the first floor.

Alexandra Pavlovna (29.07.1783 — 04.03.1801), Grand Duchess, Palatine of Hungary.

From October 19, 1799 married to the Archduke of Austria, Palatine of Hungary, Joseph Anton (27.02.1776 — 01.01.1847), governor of the Emperor in Hungary. She died a few days after childbirth.

Elena Pavlovna (13.12.1784 — 12.09.1803), Grand Duchess, Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

From October 12, 1799 married to Crown Prince Frederick Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (02.06.1778 — 11.17.1819).

Maria Pavlovna (04.02.1786 — 11.06.1859), Grand Duchess, Grand Duchess of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, since 1853 the Dowager Grand Duchess, also bearing the title of Grand Princess.

From July 22, 1804 married to Duke Karl-Friedrich Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (22.01.1783 — 26.06.1853), the Grand Duke from 1828.

Ekaterina Pavlovna (10.05.1788 — 29.12.1818), the Grand Duchess. She was granted the title of Grand Duchess. Didn’t use the title of the Duchess of Oldenburg. The Queen of Württemberg from 1816.

First marriage from April 18, 1809 to the Prince Peter-Friedrich-Georg (Georgy Petrovich) of Oldenburg (09.05.1784 — 15.12.1812). She lived with her husband in Russia.

In the 2nd marriage from January 12, 1816 to Friedrich Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Württemberg (16.09.1781-13.06.1864), who became the King of Württemberg Frederick William I on October 18, 1816.

Olga Pavlovna (11.07.1792 — 15.01.1795), the Grand Duchess.

Anna Pavlovna (07.01.1795 — 17.02.1865), Grand Duchess, the Queen of the Netherlands from 1840, later the dowager queen.

From February 9, 1816 married to William, Prince of Orange-Nassau (06.12.1792-17.03.1849), the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, King of the Netherlands (Wilhelm II), from 1840.

Nikolay Pavlovich (25.06.1796 — 18.02.1855), the Grand Duke, in 1823 appointed the heir to the throne by Alexander I.

Came to the throne on November 19, 1825, reigned from December 14, 1825, crowned in Moscow on August 22, 1826, and in Warsaw on May 12, 1829.

From July 1, 1817 married to Alexandra Fyodorovna, born Princess Frederica Louise Charlotte Wilhelmina of Prussia (01.07.1798 — 20.10.1860).

Mikhail Pavlovich (28.01.1798 — 28.08.1849), the Grand Duke.

General Feldzeugmeister from birth; Inspector General of engineering and commander of the Guards from 1825; from 1831, the supervisor of the Pages’ and Cadets’ Corps; from 1844, Commander-in-Chief of the Guards’ and the Grenadiers’ Corpses. Participated in the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829 and in the supression of the Polish uprising of 1830-1831. He died during the campaign in Hungary.

From February 8, 1824 married to Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, born Princess Frederica Charlotte-Marie of Wurttemberg (28.12.1806 — 09.01.1873).

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