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Home » Files » TOURS & EXCURSIONS IN CRIMEA » YALTA TOURS

ALUPKA PALACE OF COUNT MICHAEL VORONTSOV
[ ] 20.07.2010, 16:51

The Alupka Palace-Museum is a unique architectural monument belonging to the first half of the 19th century. The Palace harmoniously blends with the surrounding landscape. The extended lines of the facade resemble the mount Ai-Petri contours while the jagged walls and towers remind one of the picturesque blue and brown spurs of a huge mountain range.

The construction of the Palace and the adjoining park cost its former owner Count Mikhail Vorontsov millions of roubles which he drew from his mercilessly exploited serf peasants. Magnificent buildings were erected and lavishly decorated by stone-masonsfrom the Count's estates in Moscow and Vladimir gubernias (provinces), skillfull joiners and clay-modelers from the town of Moshny in Kiev region and other craftsmen coming from different parts of Russian Empire. The work took twenty years, from 1828 to 1848. The serf artisans cut elegant turrets, merlons, openwork arches and other exterior decorations out of locally found greenish grey stone of diabase which was extremely hard to handwork.

The well-known English architect Edward Bloor (1789-1879) designed the Palace as a combination of massively solid Gothic castles and gracious Oriental edifices noted for their elaborately executed architectural details of complicated forms. A resemblance characteristic of medieval castles is given to the Palace by round asymmetrical turrets with merlon crowns of the western facade, high walls with window slits, numerous spires and peculiarly arranged chimneys. Elements of English Gothic style - covered crossings, a steel footbridge and indented walls - are also vivid in a narrow passage that separates the Shuvalov Building from the household premises.

The northern facade contains elements of different architectural styles. The rectangular towers with tetrahedral domes on the sides of the central building are distinguished by traces of Oriental architecture. However, the whole of the facade with its large bow windows is typical of the 16th-century English architecture.

The southern facade of the central building is dominated by a monumental bay-shaped portal with corrugated arches. The inside of the portal is adorned with rich stuccowork and coffers with a wide frieze which features an Arabic saying "There is but one Omnipotent, and his name is Allah" repeated six times.  Such maxims were often used for decorative purposes in Moslem art. It is this combination of complementary architectural styles which gives the Palace the appearance of an integrally united whole.

The exterior of the Palace is inseparable from the interior decoration of the main rooms which house the Alupka Museum today. Despite the large number of styles, every single detail lends peculiar grace to the room. The Entrance Hall,  the Dining Room and the Billiard Room are finished mostly in dark oak. Wall panels with superimposed Gothic ornamentation match profiled wooden ceilings that bring to mind stone Gothic vaults. The walls and the ceiling of the Blue Drawing Room are embellished with white modelled vegetables on a blue background.

An ingenious design is found in the Chinese Study: its high oak wall panels are covered with a carved fretwork in the Italian Renaissance style with some Gothic elements apparently incorporated. Chinese straw mats on the walls are embroidered with flower and cornucopia patterns made of silk and bugles. The room's molded ceiling is painted in imitation wood and ornamented with alabaster vegetables.

The walls of the Chintz Room are upholstered with printed cotton fabric from France while the Main Study and the Entrance Hall are wallpapered. Two Deautitul carpets catch one's eye in the small waiting room of the Entrance Hall. Woven by Aga Bozorh, mastercraftsman from the Persian town of Resht, the appliqued carpets are ornate with embroidery. Of particular interest are fireplaces in the main rooms. They, as well as the lintels and mantelpieces, are often peculiarly shaped and decorated with various types of stone.

The Palace has a rich collection of luxurious, furrnture made by Russian and West European craftsmen trom different schools in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The cabinet-makers exploit ed valuable species of timber, inlaying the pieces with metal, tortoise-shell, nacre and ivory decorations. In the Main Study, visitors' attention is always attracted by a black wooden bookcase with metal and tortoise-shell inlay. The case is typical of the Boulle style, named so after the Frenchmaster of the early 18th century who developed an exquisite technique ot inlay work and obtained remarkable colouristic effects. Late Russian Classicism is represented, in particular, by the Blue Drawing Room suite made in the 20s-30s of the 19th century: white pieces with gilded insertions are adorned with ornamental patterns in the form of palm leaves, wheat spikes and vines.

The furniture in the main rooms is appropriately matched by numerous articles of applied art – crystal chandeliers, wall lamps, candelabra, vases, clocks, statuettes, etc.

Canvases, particularly by Dutch, Flemish, Italian and French artists of the 16th - 18th centuries, were a customary vogue in the palaces of the time. Presently the Museum exhibits paintings by C. Netscher, P. Sneyers, W. Hogarth, F. Pourbus, C. Maratti, H. Robert, to mention but a few.   In the halls of the Palace-Museum there is an exhibition of Russian and Ukrainian paintings of the 18th - early 20th centuries: portraits by V. Borovikovsky, D. Levitsky, I. Kramskoi, O. Murashko, genre paintings by K. Trutovsky, G. Myasoyedov, N. Kasatkin, M. Pimonenko, seascapes by I. Aivazovsky, landscapes by S. Vasilkivsky, I. Levitan and others.

The Alupka Museum picture collection also includes canvases by Soviet artists M. Bozhiy, Yo. Bokshai, V. Byalinitsky-Birulya, S. Gerasimov, I. Grabar, A. Kuprin, N. Romadin and others. These and other paintings are exhibited in the central building and the Shuvalov Building.

A narrow corridor and a flight of wide stairs bring one from the central building to the Library Building. At present the library stock contains a part of Count Vorontsov's book collection and a wide selection of periodicals of the late 19th - early 20th centuries. The Library Building is directly above the Exhibition Hall where Soviet artists put their works on display regularly.

A winter garden was built as a traditional sup plement to the Palace. Today, as well as a century and a half ago, exotic trees and plants grow here around white marble sculptures. One will see copies of the ancient statues of Apollo Belvedere, Bathing Aphrodite and Urania, the Greek Muse of astronomy; also the original "Little Girl" by the Italian Sculptor Quintilliano Corbellini, "First Steps" by Laurent-Honore Marqueste and others.

A picturesque park with the total area close to 100 acres surrounds" the Palace. It abounds in both local species of trees and shrubs and exotic plants which came mainly from Mediterranean region, and also from Western Asia. China and the American subtropics. The park was laid out by serf peasants under the supervision of the German gardener K. Kebach. The magnificent Upper Park, planned in the English landscape style, fascinates the eye with its spacious green glades, where pines, cypresses and mighty cedars grow as if on a wood's edge. Its clear ponds where swans and decorative fish swim, mysterious grottoes with huge diabase cliffs beetling above, small but extremely picturesque waterfalls are a paradise on earth. The so-called Great Chaos, a natural agglomeration of massive rocks, can be found in the northern end of the Upper Park.

Laid out as a regular Italian park, the Lower Park stretches from the Palace downwards to the Black Sea coast. A pavilion with Doric columns is situated on one of tne terraces ot the Lower Park - this is the Tea House, built in the early 30s of the 19th century. Another wide terrace which adjoins the Palace from the south has stone parapets with vases on them and Oriental cup-shaped fountains. A wide stone stairway leads to the main entrance to the Palace. On both sides of the stairs there are six lion figures made or white marble. The Sleeping Lion by the Italian sculptor Bonanni is the most perfect or an the sculptures in execution. The sculptor's pupils cut the other rive figures of the awakening and vigilant lions. 

"One half the Milord,
 One half in trade,
 One half a sage,
 One half a dunce,
 One half a crook,
 But here for once
 there`s every hope he`ll make the grade".
The great poet A. Pushkin appeared to be unjust. Actually, Michael Vorontsov was an educated person, courageous soldier, brilliant commander, enlightened official and wise politician.

Over 700,000 visitors come to the Alupka Museum annually from all parts of this country and abroad. They come to admire the original architecture of the Palace as well as the magnificent park. The beauty produced by the talent and labour of folk craftsmen continues to live for the future generations.
Sergey Tsarapora
Yalta - Sevastopol private tour guide

See also about Sergey Rachmaninov in Alupka Palace.

For the Yalta Conference period (1945), the Vorontsov Palace turned into the residence place of the English Prime Minister Churchill. Sir Winston shared the palace with his daughter Sarah and with the majority of the members of the English delegation.
The Yalta Conference mainly took place in Livadia Palace, but preliminary discussions of issues to be put on the agenda were conducted at the meetings of foreign ministers, which were held, on an alternate basis, in each delegation`s accomodation place.
Twice (on February 8 and 10) these meetings gathered in the Main Dining-Hall of the Alupka Palace. It was here on February 8, 1945. that the number of countries-participants of the Constituent Conference of the United Nations Organization was finally determined, time and place of its calling fixed.  

Note: Guests must be able to walk just a little, flat surfaces with 20 to 40 steps and long periods of standing. Comfortable, non-slip walking shoes are recommended.

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