REST IN CRIMEA.
ARTICLE: MASSANDRA PALACE.
Crimea always meets its visitors with warm sea, hot sun, ever-greens as well as famous and the most beautiful pieces of architecture. Massandra palace is righteously considered to be the host of cozy small town of Massandra located not far from “the capital” of Southern coast of Crimea – city of Yalta.
Massandra palace belongs to the main landmarks of Crimea. This palace is one of the most interesting architectural monuments of XIXcentury. Its architectural style reminds French castles built in Renaissance. Massandra palace was built especially for Russian Imperator Alexander III. A bit later it became a summer residence for another not less important person in the history of Russia – general secretary of CC CPSU Leonid Brezhnev. For many years this wonderful architectural monument was announced as a “closed” place by soviet authorities. Imperial palace became a state summer house where first people of the state loved to rest. In 1990, Massandra palace was given to the Museum Union «Palaces and parks of the Southern coast of Crimea» aiming to reconstruct here original interior designed for Alexander ІІІ.
Since 1992 after Ukraine was announced an independent state Massandra palace has got the status of Museum of National Importance. It became an affiliate of Alupka State Palace and Park Reserve.
Massandra palace in Yalta is a true architectural wonder impressing all its visitors not only with magnificence of external finishing, amazing beauty of interior decoration but with well-known Massandra park as well which is announced to be a true monument of the garden art. And it couldn’t be another way! Massandra Park was created in the first half of the nineteenth century. Nowadays, having the territory of 42 hа, it hosts more than 250 different species of plants, including both representatives of local flora and exotic over-sea «guests». Castle composition and its huge park create a unique architectural and park ensemble having a number of interesting places (secret places and paths, stone clutters with caves), where you can hardly define what was created by nature and what was added by a human hand.
The Palace found its cozy refuge near The Church of Beheading of St. John the Baptist, at the footing of The Main Ridge of Crimean Mountains, lost in evergreen forest, where peace and quiet always rule.
Massandra palace is a three-store building, decorated with a number of details. Centerpiece of this building is a pyramidal roof which once more confirms its peculiarity. Fairy gracefulness, lightness of high chimney-breasts, arrow-shaped endings of palace towers became a true implementation of genius architectural idea of authors and creators of such a wonderful castle.
Construction of Massandra palace started in 1881 on order of Prince S.Vorontsov, the Governor’s heir. He dreamt of building a small palace surrounded by park, that’s why this picturesque area was chosen for creation of this building, abounding with beautiful caves, rocks and springs. But alas!... The Prince’s dream wasn’t fated to come true. He even didn’t have time to live in this palace. The only part already finished before his death was a two-storey stone building with zinc-coated roof and a cellar. A couple of years later the whole Massandra estate including its unfinished castle came into possession of Imperator Alexander III. In 11 years after the erection of palace started, since 1892 construction works have been renewed. Originally the palace was built upon the project of a French architect Etienne Bushar in the style of castles of Ludivik XIII epoch (neo-renaissance and neo-baroque). Since 1892-1902 construction of Massandra Palace have been carried out upon the project of the new architect М.Меsmaher, who considerably altered architectural ensemble of the palace, decoration of its front having expressed in modern style, surfacing and interior of the park.
Due to Mesmaher’s work the palace acquired more expressive appearance. Original building with pointed roofs, a square tower and two circular ones, cock-lofts and half-round main staircase made the palace very romantic. Here Mekmaher created a sole luxurious series of palaces and gardens; he completed it with open galleries, terraces and small balconies.
Upon Mesmaher’s project the castle’s appearance changed considerably: gloomy grey walls were changed with yellow sandstone tile, which was greatly combining with gold-plated grates, vases standing near the main staircase, with two-headed eagle on the Southern tower. Walls of the building were decorated with stone carvings: column caps, surbases, architraves and various sculptural decorations. Roof of the castle became very beautiful; it was covered with lamellose asbestos cement shingle, and smoke pipes were unusually designed. A number of original decorative vases and sculptures were installed in the park, on the terraces and balconies by M.Mrsmaher, they represented Greek Gods, chimeras, sphinxes and satyrs.
For construction and external finishing of the palaces the newest construction technologies and decoration materials of those times were used, due to them Massandra palace got the image of fairy castle.
From the very beginning Massandra palace was aimed to become a summer residence for the rest of royal family, that’s why there are no studies or presence-chambers. And on the whole, you can’t change staying in this paradise on the Earth and enjoying its beauty even for solving any important state issues! Living rooms are characterized by small height, low ceilings, warmth and coziness, spreading from fire-places made of marble limestone. Internal part of the building is decorated with a number of glass paintings, stained-glass panels and poker paintings. Decoration of interiors has elements of different styles – gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, classicism, rococo. Each room keeps its peculiar word picture. A lot of household articles of the royal family have been saved and nowadays are displayed at the castle’s expositions, these are beautiful fireplaces, huge mirrors, hand-made chandeliers, luxurious mahogany furniture.
Nowadays, first two floors of Massandra palace are given for the museum, where exposition of palace interiors of XIX centuries is represented. There are static exhibitions located in the halls of the third floor attracting millions of tourists from all over the world with its unique character and beauty.
What else can you say about this majestic architectural monument, about wonderful Massandra palace of Alexander III – magnificent, fascinating, amazing, elegant, unusual, sophisticated... Fabulous castle!
By Marina Milnichenko
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