State Royal-Palace Museum-Reserve "Gatchina"
Gatchina - one of the most original suburbs of Saint-Petersburg. Centre of "Gatchina" palace-park ensemble is the Palace.
Constructed as the lonely lock towers it rises above silent water smooth surface, subordinating environmental landscape. The huge sizes, ten towers, the walls reveted with local limestones, the underground, make the Palace unlike other country residences.
"Gatchina" - one of the outstanding model of palace-park buildings in Russia. Several generations architects worked to create ensemble. During this time proprietors were changing, appearance of pavilions were changing too, up influence of new art tastes but all time was well preserving unity nature and architecture.
The palace was built in 1766 - 1781 under the project of talented architect A. Rinaldi - the author of many remarkable constructions of St. Petersburg and its suburbs. The palace was for earl Grigory Orlov, a favorite of Catherine II.
In 1783 Gatchina becomes a residence of the successor of Russian throne - prince Pavel Petrovich, the future emperor Pavel I.
Soon under the direction of the architect V. Brenn separate parts of the palace began to reconstruct. The halls created under his projects, answered the tastes of the new owner. They have got the underlined solemnity and grandiosity.
Magnificent parquets, gilding, marble, highly artistic furniture and bronze, painting and porcelain contrasted with a little bit severe external shape of a palace. After Pavel's I death in 1801, during the first half of XIX century practically no construction was conducted in the palace and park. Again Gatchina alives in the middle of XIX century when it was a residence of emperor Nikolay I.
In 1844 - 1851 last big works about the palace were conducted under the direction of R.I. Kuzmin, one of outstanding architects of the time.
In 1881 - 1894 Gatchina Palace was a favourite residence of Russian emperor Alexander III which spent a significant part of year here. Again, as well as at the end of XVIII century, the palace was in the centre of public life of the country.
After reorganizations of 40-th years of XIX century essential changes in a palace was not brought any more. The subsequent owners finished to their taste the apartments not touching, as a rule, the rooms of the predecessors. As a result Gatchina palace became the most interesting historical-art museum, which has reflected the change of art styles and tastes during one and a half centuries.
On May 19, 1918 the palace was open for visitors. Before the Great Patriotic War Gatchina palace was the largest of suburban palaces - museums of St. Petersburg, having deserved a glory of "suburban Hermitage".
In historical halls and at exhibitions it was possible to see magnificent furniture of Russian and West-European masters, French bronze, assemblies of marble sculpture and painting. Visitors got acquainted with collections of the most valuable fabrics, historical suit of XVIII - XIX centuries, ancient weapon. The special place was occupied with assemblies of Russian and West-European porcelain and east art.
First class collection of portrait painting.
Exposition and funds of a museum totaled more than 52 thousand exhibits.
War 1941 - 1945 damaged a palace. However the basic collections of the palace managed to rescue, that enables to revive this unique historical and cultural monument of Russia.
The first restored halls were opened on May, 8, 1985. At present restoration works proceeded. However already now Gatchina palace is the first class museum, "a pearl necklace" of Saint Petersburg.
Gatchina places amazed contemporaries with beauty long time ago.
Gatchina Park is connected with name Grigory Orlov, Catherine II's well-known favorite. Empress presented Gatchina to the favourite after death of the previous owner, prince Boris Kurakin.
In spring 1766 grandiose works began here. It is not only construction of the magnificent hunting Lock Tower, but also dividing of park.
The wild nature already in 70-th of XVIII century changes in fashionable landscape, or English, style, according to ideals and tastes of time. White lake sizes increases. Numerous artificial islands formed. Channels, ponds, terraces appeared. Thousand trees of different breeds land.
The author of palace Anthony Rinaldy connects the magic and mysterious Lock Tower and a coast of Silver Lake with underground grot "Echo", decorates a park with a symbolical Column of Eagle, Chessmen's obelisk.
Since 1783 the owner of Gatchina becomes Sovereign Successor Pavel Petrovich. The new stage of Gatchina Park history begins.
Pavel's difficult character, sentimental and severe, pedantic and changeable simultaneously, had an effect in everything, including a shape of its favourite Gatchina.
A trip of great prince with a wife to Europe, especially visiting France, rendered fast and strong influence on artistic image of Gatchina Park. There are regular French type parts of park - the Own garden, the Top and Bottom Dutch, Botanical and Lime gardens, island of Love with Venus pavilion, organically entered in Palace park landscape.
Planning decision of "Big Aglets garden" receives a composite continuation in regular park Silvia and in adjoining hunting large forests.
Since 1796, after Pavel the first's accession to the throne, Gatchina becomes one of imperial country residences.