Mikhail Castle - A Grandiose Fortress

In the 1800s the Engineers Castle, originally named Mikhail Castle to honor the Archangel Mikhail, was built by Paul I as a place of residence. The residence was specifically built as a fortress to protect Paul I from any attempted assissinations, as he realized that he was in a dangerous position with his hold on power waning. The castle's construction was based on a medieval model with secret passages and rooms as well as a moat made up of four canals and a drawbridge, which helped outwit his enemies for a time. However, it was just a matter of time before the castle could not protect Paul I anymore and eventually forty days after having moved in, Paul I was murdered in his sleep.

After the murder of Paul I, Alexander I took up power and rulership. Mikhail Castle was not used as a place of residence by Alexander I, instead he had many other uses for the fortress. From the death of Paul to 1822, the Mikhail castle was used as headquarters for the institute for the blind, as a barracks for the Imperial Guard, and as the Chancellery of the Ministry of Institution and Religious Affairs. From 1822 the Military Engineering School took up residence in the building and it's from here that the castle gained its name as the Engineer's Castle.

Outside the main entrance of the Engineer's Castle stands an equestrian statue of Peter I, which began to be built while Peter I was still alive. The statue was placed outside his residence with an inscription, "To the great-grandfather, the great-grandson." The youngest of Paul's four sons, Grand Duke Mikhail, commisioned the construction of Mikhailovsky Palace by the service buildings and orangery, a greenhouse used in winter to grow oranges, for the Engineer's Castle. In 1817, the architect Carlo Rossi, designed and constructed the palace using many alternative designs, such was his style. By 1819 the final design had been decided on and work began on the castle. This specific design was chosen because of two reasons, one being that the palace would look similar to a country house with a large park and it would better the surrounding area of the city. The construction of the palace was completed by 1825.


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