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The Main Staircase of the Winter Palace (The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia).

It was restored after the fire of 1837 by Vasily Stasov who largely preserved the design of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Starting from the Main Gallery, the white marble staircase then divides into two flights meeting again on the level of the first floor. The ten solid columns of Serdobolye granite support the vaults of the staircase. Full of light and gleaming with gilding and mirrors, the staircase extends for the whole height of the Winter Palace. The painted ceiling by 18th-century artist Diziano Gasparo representing the gods of Olympus Olympus gives an impression of an additional height to the staircase. The décor of the staircase includes monumental sculptures brought by Peter the Great from Italy: Power, Antinous, Diana, Equity and Might. In the 18th century the staircase was known as the Ambassadorial Staircase because the envoys of foreign countries ascended it when going to the palace for official receptions. Later the staircase received the name of the Jordan Staircase - on the Epiphany day religious processions from the Grand Church of the Winter Palace went down the Jordan Staircase to the Neva River.

© 2007 State Hermitage Museum

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Taken on September 21, 2007