1. About the Shah´s palace: Shah`s palace………………………………………..3
2. Palace of Tolstoy Family (House of Scientists) ……………………………….5
3. References ……………………………………………………………………..7
About the Shah´s palace: Shah`s palace
Crowning the abrupt precipice in the historical part of the city, the Shah Palace is rightly considered to be one of the most beautiful and magnificent edifices in Odesa. Constructed in uncharacteristic for Odesa neo-Gothic style, it stands out against other age-old buildings of the city and represents town's true adornment that locals boast about and guests are amazed at over more than one and a half century.
The intricate building of the palace was constructed in 1852 to a design by the architect, Felix Gonsiorowski, for his compatriot, Polish tycoon, Zenon Brżozowski. It was erected on the site of the proposed military hospital, whose construction took longer than planned due to uncertain reasons. Therefore the half-finished building was pulled down. As of today it is a two-storey limestone palace faced with Inkerman stone. Its shapes and decorations are reminiscent of medieval English castles, by which perhaps the architect was inspired. Its thick walls are crowned by battlemented turrets, cut with big ogival windows and arches that imitate the castle style.
Making client wishes come true, the architect designed the palace to produce the biggest impressions from the seaside. It was a perimeter formed by four buildings. There was an open-loop patio in the middle that leaded to the area once featured the fountain. Formerly it was accessible through the monumental arch that imitated medieval turret with wicket gate modeled after drawbridge.
Zenon Brżozowski’s family lived here until 1910, after that the mansion was purchased by Polish count, Józef Schonbek. He turned it into the lodging house. Ten consecutive years, the palace was rented by Persian sash, Mohammed Ali, who was dethroned, banished from his own country, and then he settled down in Odesa. His personality served as a base for the majority of rumours and legends of the palace. They say that upon moving to Odesa, the sash didn’t give up his Oriental customs and decided to organize a harem. He had a habit to get rid of guilty concubines from the ground floor balcony instead of saying them goodbye at the front door. It was a great moral for other girls and a fine amusement for locals. Also, the citizens of Odesa fell in love with overseas guest for his generosity – every time he went out to the city, he would give a lot of presents to everyone who was met at his path. Since then, the locals nicknamed this edifice the Shah Palace. It is known under this name as of today.
In 1920, after Mohammed Ali had left Odesa, the mansion welcomed the House of People’s Arts. Its activities negatively impacted on the state of the building. The palace’s exterior was kept almost unchanged, unlike interiors of this old building that were ruined, including tiled stoves, marble fireplaces, decorative parquet. Only main staircase and lobby were saved.
Palace of Tolstoy Family (House of Scientists)
Sabanaev Most St. 4, Odesa
The Palace of counts Tolstoy, commonly known as the House of Scientists, is one of the most vivid architectural monuments in Odesa. First of all, it’s famous that despite advanced age and difficult history, it could keep almost all of its interiors in its original form. As of today, they are the main magnet that attracts hundreds of tourists to the age-old mansion.
The building in Russian classicism style, subsequently finished with baroque and renaissance decorations, was constructed in the city’s center in 1830s. The project was designed by renowned Italian architect Franz Boffo, the author of another architectural masterpiece of Odesa, Vorontsov Palace. The construction was commissioned by bed chamber Nikolai Khorvat. 40 years later, the mansion was purchased by count Tolstoy for his newly married son. The Tolstoy family was one of the richest nobles in the Southern Russian Empire. They rose to fame as being sponsors and collectors of art masterpieces.
The two-storey building of shell rocks houses 12 rooms and patio-inspired garden. The majority of heavily decorated halls have been kept almost intact till now. As of today, it features delicate stairs, Venetian mirrors, carved ceilings and elegant tapestries.
The Marble Hall is considered one of the most beautiful. It was used by the Tolstoy family as dining room. The hall is completely faced with artificial marble, invented and produced by local craftsman on family’s money. There is a flawless grand piano of the German company Schroder. According to the legend, once it was owned by well-known Hungarian composer, Franz Liszt. The same saying tells that the unique painted and carved instrument was used by him during his tour in Odesa. Nevertheless the grand piano was heavily damaged during the transportation therefore vexed Liszt decided on leaving it in the city. Later on, the musical instrument was bought by count Mikhail Tolstoy for his spouse.
Another highlight of the mansion is the Silk Hall upholstered with intricately ornamented silk. They say the count decided to decorate the room after being tired of incessant requests of his friend to show him the Order of Saint Stanislaus with silk bandolier. He was awarded by Emperor himself for establishing the first-aid station. He commissioned silk in China that was inspired by order’s bandolier and commanded to cover the hall with it.
The White Hall is also the one to be amazed at. There is oak parquet, made of 22 oak varieties, Venetian mirrors, gilded chandeliers and age-old furniture. This was a ball room that could welcome up to twelve couples simultaneously. The locals affirm that until recently the waltzing ghost of a woman could be seen in the White Hall. They say that it is Countess Tolstoy’s soul returns where she was happy once.
Named because of filigree carving of nutwood doors and panels, the Nutwood Hall also has an inimitable interior, as well as the Oak Hall that once was owner’s cabinet. By the way, the last one was connected to the Opera House by the first telephone line in Odesa – the count Tolstoy loved to listen to operas by phone.
The building has adjacent art gallery in late baroque style, commissioned by Tolstoy family in the end of the 19th century. They wanted to save their vast collection of paintings and other art masterpieces of Russian and foreign visual arts. In its epoch, the gallery was reckoned to be one of the best in Russian Empire.
In 1920, the Tolstoy Family was obliged to abandon Odesa. Their mansion was turned into First People’s Museum. Since 1934, it features Odesa House of Scientists.