Our permanent Exhibition of Court Carriages at the Duty Stable reopens with a new display marking 275 years since the arrival in Russia of Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, the future Empress Catherine the Great.
The new display is set in a room between the vestibule and the main hall with eighteenth and nineteenth-century carriages. It is designed by St Petersburg’s Mantrastudio upon the idea and materials provided by Dr Reinhard Koeppe, the Zerbst town administration and the Zerbst Castle Restoration Trust, and created with support of the Tsarskoe Selo Development Charitable Foundation.
The display tells about the journey to Russia that 14-year-old Catherine, then known as Princess Sophie or Fike, and her mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp, had in winter 1744. They went nearly 2,700 km from Zerbst to Moscow and survived an attack of robbers and a road accident to reach the goal, Sophie’s marriage to the prospective Tsar Peter III of Russia. The journey’s details, known from Catherine’s memoirs and her mother’s letters, are used as quotations on the walls together with portraits of the travelers and historical pictures of cities, events and road scenes.
Our visitors can see some objects usually used by road travelers during the era of wheeled vehicles. Those include eighteenth-century French and Russian toiletry kits, Chinese cup and kettle from Guangzhou and a road trunk.
Preceding the exhibition’s row of historical carriages, some of which belonged to Catherine, the new display is seen as a starting point for understanding changes in both carriage making and land transport during the Age of Enlightenment.