Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tour of Beloselskiy-Belozerskiy Palace

This palace is a cultural center now but was once served as the Communist Party's district headquarters. Also, it was owned at one time by the prominent family the Romanov's. According to Wikipedia, the last owner, Grand Duke Dmitry sold it on the eve of the Russian Revolution and two years later it was nationalized and went on to house a regional Soviet until 1991 and then became a municipal cultural center. The rococo interiors sustained a lot of damage during WWII but was restored in 1954. The concert hall is used today for chamber concerts. It also served as a hospital from 1915 - 1918.

During our tour we were told the concert hall has such fine acoustics that an eight-piece band can be heard through much of the upper level of the palace.

The palace was designed so that when guests arrived they were greeted by their hosts from an upper landing. This was accomplished by using a large mirror at the top of the first landing of the staircase. In the mirrors reflection, the hosts and guests would first see each other. One from the landing above and the other when they entered the palace at the front door. The staircase then splits leading up to the landing where the hosts are waiting to greet their visitors. This was the host's official way to greet their guests.

They use lighting in the scones that look like candles, however, in the time it was built they of course used real candles. It created a problem to light them all at once in the concert hall because candles would start burning out before they could finish lighting them all. To solve this problem they would have long wicks on each candle that would hang far enough down to where the person could gather all the wicks together and light the ends of all of them at the same time. With a special chemical that was on the wicks they would quickly burn to each candle and they all were lit at the same time.

Only two of the three mirrors in the concert hall are original. During the war one was broken and replaced. It took three pieces of large glass to fill in the space.

There is a photo of a door handle. We thought it pretty elaborate. The library reminded me of the one in the Harry Potter movies. Beautiful. I could envision reading and studying in this library next to the fireplace for hours.

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