The Great Hall of St. Alexander Nevski, which is 100 feet long by 65 wide and 65 high, and has a large dome, is ornamented with frescoes and glit arabesques;|
The Hall of St. Andrew, or Throne Room, with statues of Peter the Great, the founder of the Order of St. Andrew, Nicholas I., who dedicated this as its Chapter Room, and Paul I., who carved the statues;
And the St. Catherine Room, the Chapter Room of the Order of St. Catherine, of which the Czarina is its chief, which has its wall hung with white silk.
The State Bedroom is remarkable for the richness of its decorations, the green jasper mantelpiece being especially handsome.
The Czarina's drawing room is called the Silver Room because of the quantity of silver articles it contains, mirrors, tables, fire-screens, etc., being made of this precious material; four very fine pieces of Gobelin tapestry hang on the walls depicting the adventures of Don Quixote, and there are some China vases of colossal dimensions.
The Picture Gallery has some splendid old masterpieces by Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Teniers, Murillo, &c.
The Palace of the Terem is much older than that just described, dating back to the fifteenth century, and its Throne Room has some superb old decorations, the walls being covered with gilt ornamentation; on the roof are some fine frescoes... On the left, facing the door, is the throne, and there used formerly to stand by it a golden box in which petitions to the Czar were placed.
In the Golder Chamber, or Czarika Room, the Czarina used to receive congratulatory visitors; it is a much smaller apartment than any of the rooms above mentioned, but has a grandeur of its own; the low vaulted roof, which is strengthened with gilded iron girders, the deep embrasures of the windows, and the roof and walls covered with frescoes, carry one's mind back for centuries to the time when this room was first built.
The Gold Dining Hall too, has some very handsome frescoes, and on the shelves which surround the pillars supporting the arched roof is a display of ancient gold and silver plate which cannot be equaled anywhere else. It is in this hall, built in the fifteenth century, that the state dinners take place after the coronation, and here, too, the Emperor receives congratulatory addresses.
The Treasury of the Kremlin contains a collection of curiosities in jewels, the duplicate of which is to be seen in no public collection in Europe. The building was erected in 1851 on the west side of the palace. Of course this Treasury does not hold any of what may be termed the crown jewels of Russia, as these are all at St. Petersburg, but the crowns of a large number of the Czars, and the relics of Peter the Great, Catherine II., and Ivan the Terrible are to be seen in profusion.
On the left, on entering, is a large collection of ancient carriages that belonged to the Czar Boris Godunof, several presented to him by Queen Elizabeth, which are ornamented with pictures of the Crusades. The small toy carriage of Peter the Great, as a child, is particularly interesting, and so is the sleigh, or rather carriage on runners, used by the Empress Elizabeth when she journeyed between Moscow and St. Petersburg in the Winter time.
Some good tapestry and very handsome harness ornament the walls of this apartment, while beyond are pictures by celebrated Russian artists. The staircases are richly ornamented with ancient Russian armour, and also with arms of all kinds, and the entrance to the main suite of apartments is gained by a large doorway at the head of this staircase. It is almost impossible to describe in detail the rooms through which one passes, as a visit of several days hardly makes one acquainted with the wonderful collection of curiosities stored in them.
The first room contains some marvelous sets of armour and Russian arms of numerous kinds, as well as cases containing momentos of various personages of note in Russian history.
In the room beyond are a number or thrones which have been used for the coronation of various Czars, but which, while beautiful in construction, and interesting to examine, are not bejeweled like those in the Circular Room.
This room, to which entrance is gained by high iron doors, is where the ancient crowns and coronation robes are kept, as well as the jeweled thrones, the like of which are not to be seen anywhere in the world. One of the most interesting crowns is that of the last King of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus, and near by is that of Paul I. when Grand Master of the Order of Malta. The Oriental crown of Simeon, Czar of Kazan, is a marvelous piece of work. In this room is a casket in which is a curious old document, the Code of Czar Alexis, which is written on sheets of parchment measuring in all 368 yards long; it dates back to 1649.
The next room contains an immense collection of gold and silver plate, representing the work of almost every country in Europe, and each country has examples in a group by themselves, the total number of pieces being over 1,600. The collection would have been larger if much of the old plate had not been used by needy Czars to melt down and convert into coin, and much of it had not been given as indemnity to the Polish invaders in 1612. What there is left mostly only dates back to the seventeenth century; but there is one cup of plain silver which is said to be over 700 years old, and a few pieces which are between 400 and 500 years old. Polish, Russian, Persian, Chinese, Danish, and English work in the precious metals, are well represented, among the English specimens being the presents taken to the Russian Court by the Ambassador of King Charles II., the Earl of Carlisle, consisting of jugs, vases, dishes, candlesticks, all of chased silver, and a very large ewer, which weighs no less than twenty-four pounds of solid silver. There are also presents from Charles I. and James I., and the German silver-work is particularly fine. There is some very fine Gobelin tapestry at one end of the room, and in front of this is a statue of Napoleon which came from Hamburg. Two silver tables, the traveling case of knives and forks that once belonged to the Emperor Alexander I., and a vast number of other articles of silver fill this large room.
One of the rooms has a wonderful collection of guns, rifles, and fowling-pieces, some of which are as much as 400 years old, while others are much less. Most of them are of Russian make, but the fowling-pieces are said to have been given by an Englishman named Fabian Smith to the Czar Michael early in the seventeenth century. There are some interesting historical Russian helmets here, and some old standards and flags, notably that which was carried to the conquest of Siberia, and the one that Ivan the Terrible carried at Kazan in 1552.
Further on is a room which is a regular portrait gallery of the Romanoff family, to which the present Czar belongs. In cases in this room are some magnificent jeweled objects, among which are a sceptre of gold studded with yellow diamonds, and a sword whose hilt is incrusted with the same very rare stones. In another case is a saddle which was presented by the Sultan Abdul Hamid to Catherine II. in 1775; its trappings are of cloth of silver trimmed with lapis-lazuli and coral. In the middle of the room in a glass case containing the English jewel of the Garter, which some say was bestowed upon Ivan the Terrible by Queen Elizabeth, but there is no account of this in the records of the Order, so that is is more probable that it was bestowed upon one of the Czar's subjects, and by him lodged here. In this same case is a collar of splendid enamel, said to have been given to the Czar Vladimir Monomachus by the Emperor Constantine in 1113. A small black box at one end of the room is, perhaps, the most interesting object in the collection, for it contains the Constitution which Alexander I. granted to his Polish subjects, and which, owing to their treachery, had to be recalled...