In 1819 in the centre of the former Menagerie in the Landscape Park (the Alexander Park), on the site of the Monbijou pavilion that had been partially dismantled at the start of the century, construction of the Neo-Gothic Arsenal began to the design of Adam Menelaws. It was completed only after the architect’s death, in 1834, and the decoration of the interiors was finished by the architect Alexander Thon.
We can judge what the interior decoration of this unique pavilion was like from watercolours produced by the artist Alois Rockstuhl over a period of twenty years. The interiors of the Arsenal were magnificent: large semicircular windows containing genuine mediaeval stained-glass purchased in Europe, elegant light “barley-sugar” columns, and murals in the rooms delighted those who saw them. The central element was the "Hall of Knights" located on the second storey. It contained the finest part of the collection of arms and armour that belonged to Emperor Nicholas I. Separate groups of items, linked by some common theme, were displayed in each room. Dummies in suits of armour created the illusion of a guard in the entrance hall. The Albanian Hall contained extremely valuable items from the imperial collection of Japanese, Chinese, Persian and Turkish arms; by the staircase visitors found a group of figures depicting the knighting ceremony; in the cabinet they could see magnificent Spanish, Italian and German swords.
In 1885-1886, on the instructions of Alexander III, this unique collection was transferred to the Imperial Hermitage, where some of it is now on display in the Knights’ Hall.
The Arsenal suffered considerable damage during the Second World War. At the present time the buiding is restored and houses our permanent display The Arsenal of Tsarskoye Selo: The Imperial Arms Collection.