Initially, Peter I settled in a one-story house, built in a hurry in 1703 near the Peter and Paul Fortress. Subsequently, five winter palaces were erected on this site by various emperors in the period 1711-1764. And only in 1762 the present building of the palace appeared. At that time, the Winter Palace became the tallest residential building in St. Petersburg. Elizaveta Petrovna did not live to see the end of construction, Peter III took over the job on April 6, 1762. By this time, the facades were finished, but many of the interior rooms were not yet ready. In the summer of 1762, Peter III was dethroned, and the construction of the Winter Palace was completed under Catherine II. To have an idea of the size of the erected palace, it is enough to give at least some data. The building has 1057 rooms, 117 stairs, 1945 windows. The total length of the main cornice flanking the building is almost 2 km. And on the parapet of the roof there are 176 sculptural figures, alternating with vases. The palace was built at the same time by more than 4, 000 masons and plasterers, marblers and modelers, packers and painters. Receiving a paltry salary for their work, they huddled in miserable hovels, many lived here, on the square, in huts.
In December 1837, a fire broke out in the Winter Palace. For 30 hours, the flames raged, which destroyed the entire decoration of the building to ashes. But before the walls of the palace had cooled down, restoration work began by order of the emperor. They were led by architects Stasov and Bryullov.
For the revival of the royal winter residence, a huge number of builders were mobilized, who worked in difficult, inhuman conditions. During cold weather of 25 - 30 degrees of frost, 6, 000 unknown workers were imprisoned in halls heated to 30 degrees Celsius to dry the walls as soon as possible. Thus, these people, entering and exiting the building, experienced a difference in temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. People were suffocating from the heat and steam, fell from the forests and crashed, fell in the streets and died. But new ones took the place of those who left, and the work did not stop for a single hour. The builders withstood the deadline set by the emperor: in 15 months the ball was completely restored. Its exterior was recreated almost exactly in accordance with Rastrelli's projects, while the interior rooms were planned and refurbished.
From the moment the construction was completed in 1762 to 1904, it was used as the official winter residence of the Russian emperors. In 1904, Nicholas II moved his permanent residence to the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. From October 1915 to November 1917, a hospital named after Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich worked in the palace. From July to November 1917, the Provisional Government was located in the palace. In January 1920, the State Museum of the Revolution was opened in the palace, which shared the building with the State Hermitage until 1941 .. Now all the premises of the palace have been transferred to the Hermitage to house its numerous collections of paintings, sculptures, objects of applied art, coins, and precious items. In order to get acquainted with the exposition of all the halls, you will need to travel 22 km. And if each exhibit lingers for only one minute, then it will take 11 years to visit the museum (if you spend 8 hours in it every day).
Source: Really Interesting Facts (unknown author), Wikipedia