Monday, 15 May 2017

Nicholas II’s Pool vs. Bathtub in the Palaces

There has been speculation on who influenced Nicholas II wish to install a pool of his own in place of a bathtub in the palaces.

The architect Maximilian Messmacher built a pool in Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich’s palace in St. Petersburg in 1886. The large bathroom was divided into two areas; a marble bathtub and a marble pool. The floor was marble and the walls were lined with plain blue tiles with panels of mythical marine scenes. Alexei was Nicholas’ favorite uncle and would have seen the palace.

Messmacher's Designs (below) of Alexei's Bathroom and photograph today

The first record of his own pool was Nicholas’ diary entry on Friday August 19th 1894 after arriving at the new Bialowieza hunting palace “… I have four charming rooms – even too luxurious … I joyfully crawled into the large, diving bathtub resembling a swimming pool …”

Photograph (below) of the Nicholas’ pool in Bialowieza

In March 1895 the architect Krasovsky designed a pool for Nicholas in the Winter Palace. The floor, ceiling, walls and pool were made of white marble. The panels on the walls imitated Alexei’s marine theme with seascape scenes.

Photograph c1900 (below) of Nicholas’ bathroom in the Winter Palace with steps (left) to the pool after its reconstruction in 1898

There were occasional problems with the pool that sound familiar to us today. On Saturday April 5th 1897 after arriving back in the Alexander Palace from a night of hunting in Gatchina, Nicholas wrote “… went to sleep at 6:30 am. Around this time there was very loud thunder-like noise – a pipe burst under tremendous pressure with scaling water pouring into the area below under my pool. Luckily it stopped and the pipe was fixed in the afternoon…”

In Tsarskoe Selo on Saturday December 29th 1912 Nicholas wrote “… I ordered a horizontal chin-up bar and set up in my bathroom and am now practicing on it little by little …”

Photograph (below) of the horizontal bar in Nicholas’ bathroom in the Alexander Palace


  1. Very elaborate!
    Nicholas's bathroom in the Winter Palace, has it been restored by the Hermitage or dose it no longer exist?
    Ghostie x.

  2. Some elements of Nicholas bathroom still exists. The pool has been dismantled. It is difficult to understand why it was next to the Rotunda!

  3. Is the bathroom accessible to the public?
    Yes, what an odd place to put a bathroom (?)
    Ghostie x.

  4. The bathroom is not open. The door to it from Nicholas' dressing room is original.

  5. Congratulations !!

    What a wonderful pictures of the Tsar's bathtubs in the Winter Palace and Bialowieza !! The last one it's probably the most misteriuous of all the imperial palaces, I've never seen a detailes floorplans of it, just schematic layouts...

  6. I do have photos of Nicholas bath and dressing rooms in the Winter Palace. An amazing number of his bath in the Alexander Palace are in the public domain. Have you seen the floor plans on the Alexander Palace forum?

    1. It would be very nice to see more pics of the Winter Palace bathroom, since it is much more unknown that its Alexander Palace counterpart! :)

      Yes, I’ve seen the Alexander Palace Forum floor plans, I got them some time ago, they come from an ancient Russian architecture treatise, unfortunately no detailed plans of the imperial palaces in the treatise, just schematic layout silhouettes, security concerns, I guess.