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The Vestibule

Over the doorway leading from the Vestibule to the State Staircase are two marble stones with Turkish inscriptions evoking associations with knights' trophies during the age of the Crusades. The black stone fitted into the wall over the entrance to the Vestibule was brought to the Cottage on the orders of Alexander III from the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Over the entrance on the other side is a stone inscribed:

"This stone is from Varna, 29 September 1828" and bearing a tugra - the monogram of the Turkish sultan Mahmud II. This is a trophy brought from the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29. The mentioned fortress of Varna, thought to be impregnable, was captured by the Russian troops. Nicholas I participated in this battle.

Another notable feature of the Vestibule painted in imitation of marble is the shell of a giant tortoise bearing the arms of Alexandria - a sword within a wreath of roses on a blue shield and the motto: "For the faith, the Tsar and the Fatherland". Once the shield was put at the entrance to the park as a sign that the Imperial family was staying in the palace. The motif of White Rose incorporated into the coat of arms is recurrent in the decor of the Cottage Palace and its items of decorative and applied art. The poetic name "White Rose" had been given to Princess Charlotte in her childhood (that was the heroine's name in the romance Der Zauberring by the German writer Friedrich Heinrich Karl Fouque de La Motte).

The living apartments of Alexandra Feodorovna - the Small Study, the Drawing Room, the Library, the Large Reception Room, the Dining Room and the Small Reception Room - are on the ground floor of the palace. The centerpiece in the layout of the palace and the vertical axis of the building around which are symmetrically grouped the rooms on all the storeys is the State Staircase.

The State Staircase

The State Staircase and its decor were manufactured of cast-iron at the Alexandrovsky Cast-Iron Works in St Petersburg. The walls of the staircase were painted in grisaille (a kind of painting imitating three-dimensional sculptural or architectural forms in shades of one colour) after sketches by Giovanni Scotti in warm light brown tones against a blue background. The perspective painted decoration creates an amazing illusionary effect seemingly moving the walls of the narrow staircase flight apart and arising a sense of spatial depth and upward thrust which were typical of Gothic architecture.

The Vestibule.

The Vestibule. Tortoise shell board
with the coat of arms
of Alexandria.
t o p   o f   p a g e  
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