Summer Palace of Peter the Great

The residence of the Emperor

Summer Palace of Peter the Great is considered to be one of the oldest buildings in Saint Petersburg. It’s located in a very beautiful area called Summer Garden. The garden was established in the beginning of the 18th century when the Northern capital was just founded and started developing.

As the Emperor Peter I wanted to have a Versailles styled atmosphere, her invited many famous architects and gardeners to work on the project. In fact, he managed to do so, and Summer Garden stays one of the most popular leisure time areas among city residents and guests.

The Design of the Palace

The Summer palace of Peter I is not lush. It is a fairly modest baroque-styled building that barely looks like a royal mansion. It is situated between the Neva and the Fontanka rivers, on the former spot of Swedish major Erik von Konow’s mansion. A two-storied stoned building was designed by Domenico Trezzini. However, the first draft was created by the Emperor himself, and then the architect just edited it.

The layout of two floors is the same. There are, all in all, 14 rooms, 2 kitchens and 2 inner corridors. Emperor’s room was on the first floor, but the second floor was offered to his wife – the Empress Catherine. The owners used the house only in the warm times – from May to October. That is why, walls of the Summer Palace are thin, and windows have only one frame each. The facade of the palace is decorated with 28 bas-relief that depict moments of the Great Northern War. The rooftop is adorned with a copper vane of Saint George defeating a snake. The vane started the inner mechanism of a wind machine and a special dashboard showed a direction and a speed of the wind. This unusual tool Peter ordered from Dresden.

The inner look of the Summer Palace. Photo from the website

In spite of the outer simplicity, the Summer Palace of Peter the Great had everything necessary. He read letters, considered complaints and met his quests in the liming room. Closeby there was a lathe where the Emperor cold work. Additionally, there were a bedroom, a clock, a kitchen and canteen and a huge assembly room. There was even a detention house. The inside look of the palace praised (in the allegorical way) the victory of the Russian Empire over Sweden in the Northern War.

Interestingly, the Summer Palace of Peter I was equipped with a sewage system, the very first one in Saint Petersburg. The building was washed from three sides with water that got in the house through pumps. The flow of Fontanka worked as a moving power to the system. Sadly after the flood of 1777 the system stopped its operations.

There was another building close to the palace. It included the Amber room, a huge library and a cabinet of many various pieces collected by the Emperor. For instance, there was an anatomic collection of a Dutch scientist  Frederick Ruysch that later became the starting composition of the famous Kunstkamera (The Cabinet of Curiosities).

The Summer Palace of Peter the Great maintained its main of function of a suburban residence until the middle of the 18th century. Later it was utilized by clerks. For some time, the palace stayed abandoned, which, in fact, saved it from possible reconstructions. In 1934 it became a historical-artistic museum.

The building suffered a lot during the Great Patriotic War, but a mass reconstruction that took place in the 50s of the 20th century helped to restore the palace. Nowadays, the Summer Palace of Peter the Great is a part of the State Russian museum.


Schedule

OPEN
Wednesday, Friday-Monday
10:00-20:00
CLOSED
Tuesdays

Public Transport

Address
Letnyy Sad, A
Metro / Subway
Gostiny Dvor
Buses
Summer Garden (Letnyy Sad)
46
Marshrutkas
Summer Garden (Letnyy Sad)
K-107, K-212, K-76


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