About the palace

The building in which the museum has been operating since 1948, the ex-Governor’s Palace, is a historic building and as a protected monument it is listed in the Register of Immovable Monuments of the Republic of Croatia and it has the attribute of being a cultural asset. The palace was built using a model from the Italian Renaissance, as a neat two-storey structure with all four sides surrounded by free space.
The design of the palace and the supervision of the construction were entrusted by the Hungarian government to Professor Alajos Hauszmann, and the building lasted from 1893 to 1986.
Using a unique location, the architect chose the High Renaissance style (…) and thus he created the finest public building in Rijeka. Placed on a hill, with a façade covered with radiant white stone, facing towards the port, the Governor’s Palace gained an attracting power in the shining Mediterranean sun (Radmila Matejčić, Kako čitati grad, Rijeka).
After a series of negotiations and the establishment of the construction it was decided that only representative rooms and the residence of the governor would be inside the palace, and that the official premises would continue to be in the postal building on Korzo. Works were carried out by the construction company Burger & Conighi for the excavations, building and stone-masonry works, Antonio Busetti for drilling works, Antal Szabó for the making of architectural-decorative elements and the Schlick foundry for the ironworks. The palace is situated in the upper part of the city, right near the Rijeka park and summer residence of Archduke Joseph, in the area of the vineyard of the Peršić family near Stajo square. At the same time for the smooth development of vehicular traffic and the organisation of a square in front of the palace the neighbouring plot of land of Durbešić was also purchased. The palace was built in the central part of the garden of 12,000 m², and due to the steep terrain the ground was resolved by terracing. The gradient of the land required the building of elevated terraces and the location of the palace so that the south side – the main façade has the height of two storeys, whilst the northern side has one storey. The height of the terrace was determined by the need to exit from the room on the first floor, while its supporting wall is used for the side arcade wings that are glazed and used as a greenhouse and a warm link with the garden pavilion on the east end of the building, carriageway, stables and staff quarters on the north-west corner of the plot.
In the kitchen building (demolished in 1971 during the building of the Museum of the Revolution, today the City of Rijeka Museum), around a separate courtyard, the following areas are grouped: on the ground floor a stable for eight horses, a coach house, tool room and living quarters for the stable staff, and on the first floor accommodation for cooks, a kitchen, a pantry, a washroom and a room for the domestic staff.
At the entrance in the central part of the palace under the covered approach portico a carriage comes into a vestibule supported by two columns the arch of which is elegantly decorated with stuccatura and on to the main stairway. Besides the vestibule and the main stairway the ground floor is also used for the accommodation of the staff, the doorman and the stoker, workshops and a cloakroom. Since there was no actual basement space, part of the ground floor which enters under the terrace was used as a basement and boiler room.
The monumental main stairway, that begins with the width of the vestibule, separates into two symmetrical wings adorned with balustrades, consoles, vases, walled surfaces coated with artificial marble and two charming bronze figures. The steep marble stairs lead to the first floor with its representative salons and halls. On the first floor one initially enters the atrium with its natural ceiling lighting, a space which impresses just by its size. It covers an area of 300 m² and extends to a height of two storeys. The atrium basically widens because connected to it are loggias above which are balconies surrounded by balustrades which are held by eight pairs of columns. The walled surface under the balcony is divided by pilasters. The covering of the columns in the vestibule and atrium, the pilasters, wall surfaces around the made by contractor Lajos Cima, and all of this is intended to impress the observer with richness and splendour. Also contributing to the ceremonial look of the atrium is the stuccatura made by the sculptor Antal Szabó. The atrium is, as the vestibule, paved with ordinary granite terrazzo. The Schlick foundry and machine factory handled the iron roof structure, whilst the placing of glass in the skylight was performed by Jakob Weiss. Around the atrium are arranged the halls and salons. The dance hall with its excellent acoustic properties stands out with its beauty (1), the surface area of 180 m² two storeys high, and the design of its interior draws special attention. The 3.6 m high walls lined with multicoloured marble panelling which forms a rectangular field. The marble panels were ordered from the contractor Paola Triscornia, owner of the quarry in Carrara. With the same contractor the preparation and delivery of the fireplace was also ordered. Above the marble panelling are placed portraits of Rijeka’s governors in staccato frames which were made by Antal Szabó (today the mirrors). The rich arched stuccatura – cartouche, rocaille, acanthus, masks, stylised ornamentation – is the work of Antal Szabó, whilst the creators of the hanging and wall chandeliers are Mör Wiesinger, Laszlo Szapary and T.H. Schiffer. From one side of the dance hall is the entrance hall (19), and from the other side the waiting room (2) which leads to the reception room and the governor’s working room (4). The central part of the main face of the palace is occupied by the reception hall (6,7,9). To the women’s salon is the dining room (12) in the wooden panelling which was made by Rezso Müller, the leader of the carpentry works in the palace. Adjoining the dining room area is a room for serving (13). On the first floor are the rooms for the genteel guests.
On the second floor, to which a special staircase leads, is the governor’s apartment, a children’s room and a room for a governess, a wardrobe and a working space for the servants (Marica Balabanić Fačini, Svjedočanstva jednog zdanja (the Testimony of One Building), Rijeka 1996).

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