Friday, 8 July 2016
‘Hidden’ Internal Staircase
There were six ‘hidden’ internal staircases in Nicholas & Alexandra’s suite, four near the inner courtyard, two off the Dark Corridor. The main Saltykov entrance and staircase are next to their rooms. Of the six, two were circular, made of iron and three are preserved today.
The main staircase of the six was named ‘Stairs and Entrance of Their Majesties’. It connects the three floors and the basement and includes access through small doors to the mezzanines.An elevator was installed in 1840 from the basement to the 2nd floor. Designed by A. Fullon, it was made of mahogany with brass bars, doors and handrails and a mahogany chair, upholstered in red morocco. The elevator was replaced by architect N. Gornostaev in 1888.
This is the stairway Nicholas II wrote of in his diary on Wednesday, January 3rd, 1896 “… We had supper together and made use of the entire evening hanging photographs in the small pass-thru hall and up and down the stairway …” On Thursday, January 4th, 1896 he wrote “… Alix and I went to take a look at items from my sojourn collection [Eastern trip 1890-91]. We chose some pieces to set up in our rooms, as well as on the landing and along the stairway …"Original elements have survived; the elevator’s strong metal ‘rails’ protruding from the walls and the stair rails. A.Bruillov’s painted ceilings from 1840 are in wonderful condition.
On one of the landings, there is a half-circle niche with a painted ceiling “in lovely blue colors” similar to the niche shown E. Hau’s c1850’s watercolor of Empress Marie’s Bath.