Vorontsovsky Palace – A Major Architectural Feat

Hidden away at the base of the Crimean Mountains lies the little town of Alupka. It is most noted for the beautiful and historical Vorontsovsky Palace, which was constructed from approximately 1830 to 1848. Its predominant use, as most royal palaces seem to have been employed, was as a summer retreat, in this case, for the Novorossiysky Krai governor-general Count Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov.

The success of the construction of Vorontsovsky Palace can be accredited to many hands. The Ukrainian palace was designed by the British architect Edward Blore. What is of interest, however, is that up to the day of final construction on the palace Blore never stepped foot into the area. Instead, he based his whole design solely on the geology of the mountainous region as well as the existing foundation and basement which had been put into place by Thomas Harrison and Francisco Boffo, the original architects to be entrusted with the design of the palace.

Many serfs were brought in from the Vladimir Governorate and the Moscow Governorate to assist in this daunting process, which would take over 18 years to complete. From there it also required masons who had specific expertise in the construction of ‘White stone’ common to the area. In this particular case it was constructed from a diabase made up of fine to medium grained igneous rock, dark gray to black in color and extremely hard in texture. Unlike this stone, most of the other material used had to be brought in from distant places and this was all done by hand, using only archaic tools.

The oldest room in the Voronsovsky Palace is the dining room, which was constructed first from 1830 to 1834. Just a year after construction began the main and central wing began taking shape and was only completed after 6 years. In the early 1840’s an addition was made to the dining room with the building of the billiard room. In between all of this the other sections were being added, including the east wing, maintenance wing, guest wing, and the front entrance. The last wing to be added was that of the library wing in 1842 – 1846 with the last two years dedicated to the interior finishes. It must not be forgotten that many in the background dedicated their time to the largest feat of all – the landscaping, which was also carried out by the manpower of the serfs.

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