Velikograd Palace

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Velikograd Palace
Grand Cascade in Peterhof 01.jpg
General information
Architectural styleBaroque
Town or cityKollavik
Construction startedJune 1689
CompletedAugust 21, 1768
  • July 6, 1835 (First Renovation)
  • March 3, 1923 (Second Renovation)
  • November 7, 1987 (Third Renovation)
OwnerTsar of Velikoslavia
Technical details
Floor area67,000 m² (721,182 ft²)
Design and construction
ArchitectAreth Antanides
Other information
Number of rooms526

The Velikograd Palace (also the Imperial Seat and the City of Lords) is a baroque style palace in Kollavik in Velikoslavia. It is the principle residence of the Tsar of Velikoslavia and various other aristocracy, servants, and officials that are awarded palace apartments. It is the largest and most spectacular example of a Velik Baroque structure in the world. The first segment of the palace, known as the Grand Residence, was opened in 1720 after its construction was ordered by House Orlov-Bithynia in 1706. The palace covers 1,650 acres and has 250 acres of gardens. It was named Velikograd in order to allude to its role as a city within a city for the court.


Rusik Manor

The site of the original palace was initially occupied by the village of Rusik, which was fairly remote in that day. The village and lands were owned by the Rusik Family who used the site as a source of wood. A mill for making lumber was located several miles away along a small river running into Lake Arga. Tsar Vitomir II first visited the land in 1604 when he was searching for a place to stay for a hunting trip. He supposedly took an interest in the design of the Manor and requested to rent the house for three weeks out of each year for annual hunting trips. By his death in 1631, these trips had become an annual tradition for his son Paul I.

Rurik Manor, preserved as a guest house on palace grounds today

In 1638, Paul I purchased Rurik Manor and a portion of the land around the house for a large sum of money from the Rurik Family. The vast majority of the land had been cleared in previous years by the successive generations of the Rurik timber business. After acquiring the land, Paul I updated and remodeled the house, which had fallen into disrepair after the family foreman moved to supervise a new site down river. Despite the funds he put into the manor house, Paul I barely visited it outside of the annual hunting trip. His son and heir-apparent, Aristophan I, visited the site often however. It was said that he adored the house and the land around it. Prior to his ascension to the throne in 1675, he would spend two months out of every year staying in the house.

The Palace of Aristophan I

When Aristophan I ascended to the throne in 1675 as Tsar, he contacted the Rurik Family and purchased the remainder of the site. The mill on the nearby river was torn down and construction began on what Aristophan called a "monument to the greatness of this land". Large amounts of treasure in the form of gold, jewels, and other various priceless artifacts had been brought back to the capital by his father and grandfather. As a result, Aristophan chose to use much of the treasure to create a palace that was intended to rival all others. With the popularity of Velik Baroque, he commissioned famed architect Areth Antanides to design a palace "more grand than any before it".

The initial construction began in 1689 due to Aristophan's insistence that he spend several years acquiring more treasure to increase the splendor of his dream. Initially Areth Antanides commissioned the Grand Atrium, a massive hall that would serve as the grand entrance and central hall for events and banquets.

One of the many garden pathways that dot the grounds

Servants quarters, kitchens, and stables were added in 1693. In 1694, he added three new wings built of stone, known as the Outer Halls, to the north, south and west of the Grand Atrium. These buildings had nearly-flat roofs covered with lead. Aristophan commissioned famed designer Hadrian Camelius to design "the grandest gardens in Belisaria". These consisted of over 210 fountains, acres of gardens, and large fields of various fruit trees.

The first floor of the palace was constructed just off of the Grand Atrium and contained two symmetrical sets of apartments intended for the Tsar and his consort. The two apartments were separated by a marble terrace, overlooking the garden, with a fountain in the center. Each set of apartments was connected to the ground floor with a ceremonial stairway, and each had seven rooms, aligned in a row; a vestibule, a room for the guards, an antechamber, a large cabinet or office, a smaller bedroom, and a smaller cabinet. Above on the second floor, various guest apartments for guests to stay in during court were constructed. These were identical apartments with four rooms each; a room for guards, an office, a sleeping chamber, and an antechamber. Interior decoration was handled by a large team of artists that painted walls, portraits, carved statues, and created furniture in order to outfit the vast rooms. This was finally finished in 1701 and Aristophan moved his court there that same year.

The Palace of Mariya I

Aristophan died the year he moved his court to the palace, not living to see completion. In 1702, his daughter Mariya I commissioned two additional wings of apartments based around a new central hall called the Hall of Wealth. The new hall was designed to showcase the wealth of Velikoslavia. Vast amounts of gold, jewels, and priceless treasures were stored here on display for all to see. Constructed in the hall was the Gilded Vault, a secure complex that contained the treasury of the Tsar. This section of the hall is partitioned off by gates that protect the more valuable treasures of the realm, including the Crown Jewels. By 1710, the final wings and touches to the palace were being constructed under Mariya's orders. Going off of her father's plans, she initiated construction of the last segment.

Situated on the islands in the shallow marsh lands on the shore of Lake Kollavik, she constructed the Summer Pavilion and the Tsesarevich Pavilion.

Tsesarevich Pavilion where children of the monarch and other nobility spend summer days

Both of these were situated on the small natural islands in the shallow lowlands around the lake. Ornate stone walking bridges connected them to the rest of the palace. The Tsesarevich Pavilion was originally built for the heir-apparent, Alexis I, and was built to the boy's specifications. It is traditionally considered owned by the Tsesarevich, or heir-apparent, even today. After the final fountain, The Monument to the Conquerors, opened in 1720, Mariya declared the palace complete and moved all functions of government there. Little was done to the structure until the reign of Alexis I, her son.

The Palace of Alexis I

In his 60 year reign, Alexis initiated several improvements and expanded the structure. This would mark the final major expansion to the palace other than non invasive renovations to add plumbing and electricity in later centuries. Because he spent significant amounts of time in the Tsesarevich Pavilion, he had an additional audience chamber built into the structure so he could receive visitors there. Though significantly smaller than the palace audience chamber, it still allowed Alexis to receive small numbers of visitors without leaving the Pavilion. The gardens of the palace itself were expanded further by the inclusion of significant numbers of flowering tropical plants from Oxidentale in order to expand upon the beauty of the garden.

In 1742, Alexis was attending the Gloria Opera House when he noticed the building's grand structure and architecture and the disrepair the building was falling into. Inspired by the old building, he ordered repairs of the Opera House. Still desiring his own opera for himself and his guests, he ordered the construction of his; the Grand Velikograd Opera House, which was completed in 1750. The new opera was able to seat 500 people behind the grand central stage where performances were put on. In order to complete the amenities offered by the facility, he ordered the construction of the Velikograd Cathedral in 1756. He declared that the palace required a place of worship and said it was a travesty that his predecessors did not build a place of worship on the grounds. Upon its completion in 1768, it would contain some of the most intricate mosaics, statues, and a jewel encrusted altar to worship at in the entire land. The center piece of the chapel was the solid gold 7 foot crucifix that was hung from the wall behind the altar.

With the death of Alexis in 1785, successive rulers declined to make major expansions to Velikograd as the city had begun to expand around the palace as the government followed the ruler. The palace slowly became the core of the Old City and further expansion became difficult as successive emperors allowed other nobility to build outside the grounds. In 1798, Aristophan II issued the Capital Protection Decree, declaring the Old City off limits for further expansion and expanding the ancient walls around the new development that had sprung up around Velikograd. This halted further expansion of the palace other than modifications on the current grounds.


Alexis' son Aristophan made small modifications to the palace to suit his tastes, redecorating the Tsar's Apartments and adding his own personal arms to the throne room engraved in gold. He also introduced the Grand Rotunda in the throne room in 1802. Resting on this platform, he had a physical representation of the Sapphire Throne commissioned. The giant blue marble seat would be anchored into place and serve as the physical representation of the Tsar's power with a giant blue sapphire anchored above the headrest. The worsening financial situation of the nation forced Aristophan to abandon his plans to rebuild both outer wings of apartments in neoclassical architecture style.

In 1830 when Aristophan died with no heir, the palace lay empty for two years until 1832. Without being actively maintained, portions of the structure fell into disrepair and the gardens began to overgrow. When Alexis II was crowned Tsar in 1832, one of his first projects was to order the restoration of the palace which began in 1835. The vast financial loss from the revolt of Ludosiya resulted in a three year project taking the next ten years to complete. The repairs and the vast restoration work were finally completed in 1845 under the reign of Alexis II. The only change, which started a tradition that has been completed each time a new dynasty has taken the throne, was the removal of previous house's arms and the new dynasty's arms being added behind the throne.

During a period of instability, the Grand Atrium was damaged during fighting between Keld and Ivanov supporters. After the ascension to the throne of Alexis IV and the execution of the last Keld Tsar, the new ruler ordered repairs and restoration work on the palace immediately. Repairs were completed by 1910 and Velikograd was finally restored to its former glory. The rapid industrialization and economic programs commenced under Alexis IV meant that by 1920, the palace would need a new addition to meet modern standards, electricity. The first major renovation of the palace occurred in 1923 to introduce modern amenities. Internal plumbing and electricity were added with as much effort to preserve the original structure as possible. Washrooms were introduced into all of the palace apartments and in major public spaces. The first modern air conditioning system was added to the palace in 1952.

The structure was not renovated again until 1987 with Nicholas II issued orders to update out of date plumbing and wiring. Through careful planning, the vast majority of the original structure has remain unchanged despite the introduction of modern utilities. Washrooms were updated and repaired and new fixtures were added where necessary. Upgrades to the air conditioning and the inclusion of modern insulation where stone walls were not in use improved the comfort of the palace. Older wooden flooring was refinished and replaced where necessary. Designers replaced it with the exact type and color of wood that the original designers used, Yisraeli Cedar.

In 2015, Alexis V announced that Velikograd would undergo updates in order to comply with modern building standards. Washrooms were upgraded with energy efficient fixtures to conserve water and electricity. Halogen lighting was replaced with LED lighting and many smart home features were introduced. Insulation was further improved in the various sleeping quarters of the facility and across the palace. Restoration work on the Pavilions was also completed in order to repair water damage from earlier flooding. It was announced that in 2020, the palace would celebrate its 300th anniversary as a major event.

Architecture and Plan

Velikograd Palace offers a visual history of the evolution of the popular Hellenic Baroque style and is known as the first structure to launch the Baroque Revolution that followed and resulted in the construction of a host of grand palaces by upper nobility. It began with the original Grand Atrium which was meant to be the central piece. It then became grander and more monumental, with the addition of the colonnades and flat roofs of the new apartments. Further evolution and the addition of neoclassical elements came later under successive emperors who deviated slightly from Aristophan I's plans to suit their own wishes.

The initial Grand Atrium was built as the centerpiece of the two outer wings for the various servants apartments and stables. Behind that, the apartments for the aristocracy and the Tsar were constructed. This still serves as the central part of the palace today despite the many additions and where the bulk of the apartments are located. The grand audience chamber was constructed directly behind the main apartments. In the central square between the wings, the Grand Gardens were planted and the Marble Patio was constructed with marble tiles surrounding the Fountain of the Conquerors.

Prior to the audience chamber, the Hall of Wealth and two additional wings of noble apartments were built at the opposite end of the Grand Gardens. These wings came to fully encompass the gardens, reflecting the influence of ancient Latin architectural design of a square of villas surrounding a central garden.


According to the original plans under Aristophan I, Velikograd was intended to be able to house all of those who were attending Imperial Court of the Velik Empire. It was decided that many apartments would be constructed in the palace. The primary apartments were the two grand apartments for the Tsar and his consort. The initial two story structure built off of the Grand Atrium contained the apartments for the Imperial Family which occupied the first floor. The second floor was occupied by numerous guest apartments for those staying at court. These would later come to be known as the Favored Apartments because of their location in relation to the Tsar's living space and the audience chamber. Less favored or lower ranking guests generally received apartments in the outer wings. The three other wings of the palace around the Grand Atrium were also all apartments. These were constructed with a flat roof and covered in lead. Each of these apartments were constructed with four rooms each; an entry atrium for guards, a dining chamber, a sleeping chamber, and an antechamber for additional guests or audiences with other aristocrats.

The apartments constructed by Mariya I were significantly more luxurious than those of her father. The position of the apartments near the Hall of Wealth dictated that they be the best options. Later, these apartments would become the standard for Velikograd apartments. These were also larger, with each containing ten rooms. Years later under Nicholas II, these larger apartments would be modified to house families with two washrooms, a full size kitchen, a large foyer, and six bedrooms. Four grand apartments with fifteen rooms each wre constructed for foreign monarchs. These are still the largest apartments in Velikograd and have been utilized by monarchs in the past.

Under Alexis I, who was known for his significant renovations, the Summer Pavilion and Tsesarevich Pavilions were both constructed to contain full apartments. When not in use for leisure time, the Summer Pavilion was used to house important guests. The Tsesarevich Pavilion contains a much smaller apartment since it was solely designed for the Heir-Apparent as a private residence away from the rest of the palace. Two apartments for the Bishop of Velikograd and his staff were constructed for his full time residence so he could conduct services in the Velikograd Cathedral.

The Grand Atrium

As the first structure of Velikograd that was completed, the Grand Atrium was designed to awe any visitors. It contains three large rooms; the Hall of Saints, the Hall of Feasts, and the Hall of Aristophan. The Hall of Saints is the first thing that greets a visitor. The hall contains vast silver statue of Saint Peter in the center of the room standing over an indoor reflection pool that was later converted to a fountain in 1984. The two grand staircases to the second floor and a vast carved archway to the other rooms attract the attention of any visitor immediately. The marble tile floors are continued throughout. Directly to the right of the Hall of Saints sits the Hall of Feasts. Designed to seat hundreds for court, the hall contains grand mahogany tables with plush cushioned benches. Several other tables for drinks and other dishes are interspersed throughout the space. Sitting at the rear of the Atrium is the Audience Chamber, a multi storied room where court is held. Initially, the room had an elevated wooden throne for the monarch but that was later placed with the rotunda and the great representation of the Sapphire Throne. Alexis II, successor to Aristophan II who had the Rotunda built, declared that the throne was too uncomfortable and had comfortable furnishings installed on the level below the throne. The Sapphire Throne itself is generally used solely for ceremonies.

The Audience Chamber is laid out in multiple levels with balconies installed throughout the room with standing space for dignitaries to watch the activity below. Each of these balconies have a doorway that leads to the second floor of the palace so visitors can return to their apartments from the balcony. The primary floor below has luxurious padded carpets designed for people to comfortably stand on for long periods of time. Under the Valinov Dynasty, those on the first level traditionally stood. Later emperors began to have chairs brought in for guests on the primary level and did away with the tradition. Each room in the Atrium contains intricate frescoes that adorn the ceiling and paintings for the walls. The Hall of Feasts is famous for its intricate stain glass windows that were hand installed and crafted on site.

The Grand Cathedral

The Grand Cathedral of Velikograd was an addition to the palace under Alexis I who also initiated the practice of a full time Bishop of the Aletheic Church living in the palace upon completion of the Cathedral. Though significantly smaller than many of the main Cathedrals of the Empire, it is much more grand than many of the others.

Grand Cathedral of Velikograd

Constructed with a copper dome and three gold plated steeples, the building was more costly than several other segments of the palace. With seating for 500 people, the interior of the Cathedral was finished in rare Ghantish cedar with lamb's wool cushions. Alexis I ordered the altar of the Cathedral to be "the grandest in the Christian world". The altar of the Cathedral was finished in gold with icons of the saints adorning the entirely of the wall from floor to ceiling. In the center of the altar, a golden reliquary for ceremony was constructed surrounded by golden chairs for the priests to occupy. In front of the reliquary, a podium of marble with gold inlay was erected for the priest to speak to the congregation. Upon the ceiling, X spared no expense in ordering the most comprehensive fresco in the nation at that time. It took four artists over two years to paint the ceiling in its entirety with a scene known as the "Second Coming of Our Lord", which depicts the battle scene of Revelation 19. The fresco is one of the most popular attractions that people who come on palace tours get to see. When it opened, the Grand Cathedral of Velikograd was considered the most lavishly decorated church in the Velik Empire. The Patriarch of that day claimed it was a sign that the Velik Empire was "the most devoted Christian nation in the world.

The Grand Opera

The Grand Opera was constructed in 1742 under the orders of Alexis I. He desired a private opera for when he hosted sessions of the Court and to stage grandiose performances. Completed in 1750, the interior of the Grand Opera was furnished with intricate wood designed to reflect the voices of those on stage throughout the facility. Seating was made available for nine hundred patrons with upper level balcony seating adding an additional fifty seats. Intricate ceiling frescoes were painted in baroque style with a painting of an Angelic Choir dominating the rounded dome of the Opera's ceiling. A vast curtain made of cotton and silk was created and hung in order to frame the mahogany wood stage of the Opera. The hall has been specifically kept the way it was when it was first opened, with great care taken to install modern amenities without disrupting the building's design and decor. The Grand Opera is one of the most widely used buildings in palace and regular performances are held for guests and residents of the palace. Plays, Operas, Musicals, and many other types of events are frequently put on. Acts and talent from across the Empire and many foreigners have performed there over the centuries and many famous performances have been done in the Grand Opera.

The Gilded Vault and Hall of Wealth

The Hall of Wealth was added to Velikograd by Mariya I. She commissioned it in 1702 in order to move the Imperial Treasury from the Grand Vault to Velikograd and transferring its garrison of Ordokur Guard to the court. The large dome shaped structure would stand behind the Grand Atrium and the apartment wings of Aristophan I. Additional living quarters for nobility and other denizens attending court was also judged to be a necessity. The Gilded Apartments were commissioned under Areth Antanides once again to design. An additional underground section of the Hall was planned as well for additional storage. The domed structure is composed of multiple rooms inside. The rooms are arrayed in sequence in a winding and meandering layout, designed to take those who enter through a tour of the hall. Each room is filled with glass display cases and stands for various artifacts and objects that can be displayed. These displayed objects are changed periodically and the Hall offers tours to the public several times a year.

In the center of the structure is a sealed room where the most valuable treasures are contained. The Crown Jewels of Velikoslavia are on prominent display, normally only removed for ceremonies or coronations. Another prominent display item is the Grand Sapphire of Saint

Imperial Crown of Velikoslavia
Great Sceptar of Velikoslavia

Andrew, a flawless 1200 carat sapphire and one of the world's largest. It is said to have been gifted to Dagan I by the church as official recognition of his leadership. This section of the palace is locked behind bars made of gold at all times and was permanently guarded by the Ordokur Guard at all times until 2001 when a professional security system was installed in the Hall of Wealth.

Under the Hall of Wealth stands the Gilded Vault where the bulk of the treasury's hard assets are kept. Sealed behind a great bronze door that could only be opened with a specific key, the Vault contained the gold, silver, jewels, and other wealth that Romulus VI and later monarchs possessed. Later, a more advanced facility was opened for the storage of the nation's gold reserves and the treasury of the emperor. The Gilded Vault is used today as a backup armory for the Ordokur Guard.

Gardens and Fountains

The expanse of the Gardens are designed in the formal style of Vannoisian formal gardens of the 17th century. The gardens have been maintained and replanted as necessary over the years and retain a significant amount of their historical design. The many fountains located here exhibit an unusual degree of creativity. One of the most notable designs is entitled 'The Sun'. A disk radiating water jets from its edge creates an image of the sun's rays, and the whole structure rotates about a vertical axis so that the direction in which the "sun" faces is constantly changing. The same bluff that provides a setting for the Grand Cascade houses two other, very different cascades. West of the Grand Palace is the Golden Mountain (Золотая Гора), decorated with marble statuary that contrasts with the riotous gilded figures of the Grand Cascade. To the east is the Chess Mountain, a broad chute whose surface is tiled black and white like a chessboard. The most prominently positioned fountains are 'Adam' and 'Eve'. They occupy symmetric positions on either side of the Sea Channel, each at the conjunction of eight paths.

There is a special garden known as the Upper Garden which comprises a maze of flowering Aphron Hedges which give off a pleasing smell. The Upper Garden is walled off from the other gardens by a fence made of intricately shaped gold bars. Inside, another terrace known as the Terrace of the Sovereign is tiled in black marble. It is where the Imperial Family may take meals and recline. There are two large round tables of marble built into the terrace with intricate wooden chairs, which are removed when the terrace is not in use to protect them from the elements. One of the largest fountains, the Throne, is located here. A large throne of gold sits in the middle of a pool of water on a pedestal. Water flows from under the throne down a golden set of stairs into the pool below. A marble statue of Christ sits upon the throne, gazing down in front of the fountain. The remainder of the terrace has various statues and artwork that provide a pleasing view.

Other Structures

Despite minimal modification to the palace itself, other structures have been added on the grounds throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Diocetus I had a shooting range added in 1932 for his personal use as his hobby was sport shooting. Recently, Nicholas II ordered a sauna and steam room added shortly before his death in 2001. It was finished under his son, Alexis V, and is popular with palace residents and guests. The Summer Pavilion was modified in 2012 under Alexis' orders. He added an additional private steam room and sauna solely for him and his family on the grounds near the bridge to the Pavilion. Though the palace is equipped with modern facilities, a bath house was constructed as well for private use by the Ivanov family and anyone who they give permission in order to be able to take traditional salt baths without damaging the palace's internal plumbing.

Heir-Apparent Paul has changed the Tsesarevich Pavilion by adding a media center and game room as well as a field that can be used for Pitz and soccer along with other sports. He also added a steam room for the structure.

Notable Foreign Residents