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A contract that defined the appearance of St. Petersburg

A contract that defined the appearance of St. Petersburg

On September 12, 1779 in Rome the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi signed a three-year contract for working in St. Petersburg – and eventually spent there 37 years of his life designing some of the finest buildings of the then Russian capital. Here is a story about some of the most famous masterpieces built by Quarenghi.


The Hermitage Theatre

The Hermitage Theatre was built on the place where the former Winter palace of Peter the Great used
to be. Under Empress Elizabeth the building was given to the Preobrazhensky Lifeguards regiment, and
Catherine the Great decided to give the site to the Directorate of Imperial Theatres and have a new
building constructed.

The theatre was built during 1783-1787. When designing it Giacomo Quarenghi was inspired by Andrea
Palladio's Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.

Raphael Loggia in the Hermitage

Giacomo Quarenghi created the Raphael Loggia to the order of Catherine the Great in the 1780s using
as a prototype the famous Vatican Palace gallery painted to Raphael’s designs.

Manege Horse Riding School

The building in the classicist style was constructed in 1804-1807 for the Horse Guards' regiment. After
1917 the building was used as a warehouse, in the 1930s it was given to the state security service
(OGPU, later renamed NKVD, MVD and KGB), and in 1977 became an exhibition hall.

Smolny Institute

Quarenghi started this project in the last years of Catherine the Great’s reign. Before 1917 it housed the
Institute of Noble Maidens, the first female educational establishment in Russia. Since 1996 it is the
official residence of the Governor of St. Petersburg.