No modern city can boast that it is so entirely composed of palaces and colossal public edifices as St. Petersburg. In some of these several thousand persons reside — six thousand, for instance, are said to inhabit the Winter palace during the emperor's residence in the capital; and the traveller, when he looks on this gigantic pile of building, will not fail to remember that it once fell a prey to the ravages of fire, at least the interior of it, and in a few hours the greedy flames destroyed much of those treasures and works of art which had, with extraordinary zeal, been collected during the prosperous reigns and magnificent courts of Elizabeth and Catherine II., and the less gorgeous but more elegant ones of Alexander and Nicholas.
see more - St. Petersburg - Imperial Palaces, etc.
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855