The Palace of the Russian Tsar
The Alexander Palace was ordered to be built by Catherine the Great for her grandson, the future Alexander the First. She began to plan for the building when he was young and intended to give it to him when he became older. She enjoyed discussing his future palace with the young Alexander and invited him to draft his own ideas for it. Giacomo Quarenghi was the architect of the palace.
He was born in Bergamo, Italy in 1744 and died in St. Petersburg in 1817. Quarenghi came from a family of artists. He was originally trained as a painter and had rare drawing abilities. He travelled throughout Italy, England, and France studying architecture. Quarenghi had been deeply influenced by the Palladian style he saw in around Venice during his youth. He was also impressed by the latest trends in Neo-classical architecture being built in France and the earlier designs of the English architect, Indigo Jones.
Catherine invited Quarenghi to Russia in 1779, when he was thirty.
Physically Quarenghi was short and ugly. He was clumsy and had a strange booming voice. Quarenghi had 13 children, some lived in Russia and others in Italy. Immediately upon his arrival in Russia she put him to work and selected many designs from him throughout her reign. He was one of her favorite architects. He produced many plans for the palace for Catherine which still survive.
Originally the Alexander Palace was planned for St. Petersburg. The first designs, (above) which were intended for an urban environment, clearly show a more ornate facade and a complex interior plan. At some point Catherine decided to build Alexander's palace in Tsarskoe Selo and simplify the plan. These changes went through several stages as plans for the palace neared reality.