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Suburbs of St. Petersburg: the sights of Gatchina, Strelna, etc

Unique attractions of the suburbs of St. Petersburg

The famous suburbs of St. Petersburg are famous all over the world for beautiful palaces, wonderful fountains, picturesque parks and amazing nature. In these places, the country residences of the Russian emperors were located, which now represent a unique museum value and are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Each of the suburban palace and park ensembles of St. Petersburg has its own unique features, special style and unusual engineering solutions.

So, where to go outside the northern capital?

Located to the west of St. Petersburg, the palace and park complex of Peterhof is famous for its unique fountains. After the military victories over the Swedes, Peter I, the construction of a grand country residence was conceived, not inferior to Versailles in its magnificence, and even a draft was prepared — the drafts of his drawings are still kept in the museum.

The entire system has about 180 fountains, presented in four cascades. The most famous of these is the Grand Cascade, the project of which was developed by Peter. It is located in the Lower Park and starts from the Samson Fountain, which throws out a huge column of water up to 21 meters from the lion’s mouth. He is surrounded by eight dolphins. The author of all the sculptures is the famous K. B. Rastrelli.

Spacious stairs rise from the Lower Garden to the Great Peterhof Palace, majestically towering above the park on the 16-meter high natural terrace. The exterior of the building is characterized by understated elegance, and all 30 rooms are decorated with stunning luxury. From the original interior remained some elements and part of the furniture — the Oak staircase and the Oak study.

After the revolution, the entire palace and park complex was declared a museum. During the war, part of the treasure was taken to St. Petersburg and rescued by staff, and buildings and fountains were destroyed by the Germans. After several years of restoration, in the mid-60s the first halls of the complex opened. Today, this magnificent museum ensemble pleases numerous guests with its beautiful appearance and priceless exhibits.

The palace and park ensemble in Gatchina is located in picturesque places on the coast of Silver Lake, 42 km from the center of St. Petersburg. He grew out of the estate donated by Catherine II to his favorite, Count G. G. Orlov, in the mid-60s of the 18th century. Under the guidance of a famous Italian architect, a magnificent palace was built with an unusual architecture that combines elements of an English hunting castle and a Russian manor. At the same time, a landscape park with artificial islands, an underground tunnel and a grotto was laid out.

After the death of Orlov, the palace was rebuilt several times. First, he moved to Paul I, on the orders of which the building was expanded. The walls were decorated with beautiful paintings, modeling and gilding. New buildings and gates appeared, gardens and parks were laid out. In the 19th century, a major reconstruction was carried out according to the plan of Nicholas I. The palace was surrounded by a bastion wall, restoration works were carried out inside the main building, a monument to Paul I was erected.

The building was heavily destroyed during the war, valuable exhibits were destroyed or exported by the Germans. Only in the mid-70s began the revival of the museum. Today, the Grand Palace and the park are open for tourists.


On the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, opposite Kronstadt, 40 km from St. Petersburg, this magnificent palace of Alexander Menshikov, a sample of Peter’s baroque with a luxurious park, was erected. The huge building built on a height, is turned by facades to the gulf. Its central part is connected with side pavilions by semicircular galleries. The original interior of the palace changed several times, but contemporaries noted its extraordinary luxury. The size and richness of decoration Menshikov estate surpassed the royal palace in Peterhof.

Beautiful curly stairs descended to the Lower Garden with fountains and sculptures from the palace, and a pier with a pavilion was located at the gates. Here came the Sea Canal, connecting the palace with the bay. Under Menshikov, the Upper Garden was also laid, the arrangement of which continued under Peter III. When it was built amusing fortress and a small stone palace.

Particular attention is attracted by the amazing sight — Catherine II’s own dacha in the Upper Park, in the center of which stands the Chinese Palace. The refined interior of its halls is decorated with elegant mosaics and gilded stucco.

Some rooms are decorated in Chinese style. An unusual decor stands out for the Bugle cabinet, whose walls are decorated with canvases in gilded carved frames with glass-beaded embroidery. The palace is a unique monument in the Rococo style, which preserved the original interior.

During the war, the neighborhood of Orienbaum became a stronghold of defense, and he suffered less than other suburbs of St. Petersburg.

Located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland Strelna is considered the oldest suburb of St. Petersburg. It was in these places that Peter I planned to create a suburban residence. A wooden traveling palace was built, a park was laid, and even the construction of the Konstantinovsky Palace began. However, the hydrography of the area did not allow for the engineering plans of the tsar, for whom Peterhof was chosen, to which the residence was transferred.

The building of the Konstantinovsky Palace began to be completed in the mid-50s of the 18th century under the leadership of F. B. Rastrelli. The huge building in the antique style towered above the beautiful park with picturesque canals. According to the project of the architect, his two wings were connected by a through triple arcade. At the beginning of the 19th century, after the fire, the palace was restored, some redevelopment was made. Interiors were altered, the facades are equipped with balconies, a house church appeared.

After the revolution and the war the palace was destroyed. His restoration began in 2000, when he was transferred to the presidential administration. For a year and a half, both the building and the territory were completely restored according to the drawings that had been preserved, and a monument to Peter I was installed in front of the facade. Now Konstantinovsky Palace is known as the Palace of Congresses, but you can go on an official tour and see it. The restored Travel Palace is also open to tourists.

Interest is the monastery of the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage. In its courtyard there are several old churches and chapels. The five-domed Trinity Cathedral with a monastery belfry, which occupied a central place, was destroyed in the 60s of the last century.

In the former estate of Count Orlov there is an amazing architectural landmark — Lviv Palace. Built in the form of a medieval castle, it towers above a picturesque park with fountains and labyrinths. The building is made in neo-gothic style, with a high toothed tower, its buildings are connected by a covered gallery. Today it is completely renovated.

Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo)

Tsarskoye Selo is an estate that Peter I presented to his wife 25 km south of St. Petersburg. Over time, it became the favorite residence of the Russian empresses and a unique ensemble. The majestic Catherine Palace and now amazes with its size and beauty. At first, a small two-storey mansion was built in its place, which during the reign of Elizabeth turned into a magnificent ensemble in the style of Russian baroque, surrounded by a beautiful park.

The facade of the palace is decorated with columns, sculptures of Atlanteans, rich in gilded stucco. The combination of blue and white with gold gives it an elegant look. The gilded domes of the palace church shine in the northern end of a huge building that has become three-storeyed, and its interiors have changed under the guidance of Rastrelli. From the main staircase in the southwest end stretched a suite of rooms, painted with gilded carvings. The famous Amber Room, exported by the Germans, disappeared without a trace. However, at the beginning of the century, an amazing landmark was completely restored.

The lands on which Pavlovsk is now located are located 25 km from the center of St. Petersburg. They were donated by Catherine II to her son for the construction of a country residence, where the family could go in the summer. The palace and park complex, created on 600 hectares, includes the magnificent Pavlovsk Palace, a unique landscape park with pavilions and architectural structures.

The golden-white three-story building, topped with a flat dome, can be seen from all corners of the park. The dome is supported by snow-white columns forming open galleries that surround the horseshoe-shaped courtyard. Outside, the palace is decorated with beautiful stucco and bas-reliefs. Later a marble porch with balustrades was built, and the gallery is covered with unique frescoes. Above it is a library with arched windows. The interior of the palace is amazing sophistication and luxury.

The visitors are especially impressed by their own garden, in which rare plants were planted, blooming from early spring to late autumn. It was created by Empress Maria Feodorovna and was a place of rest for the family.

Kronstadt, located on the island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland, has always been considered not only as a suburb, but also as a marine shield of St. Petersburg. Now it is a museum town with ancient buildings, stunning parks and gardens, canals with unique hydrotechnical solutions and an interesting history, where you can go on excursions.

There are more than 300 historical monuments, among which stands out the St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral with a unique interior decoration.

The suburbs of St. Petersburg are located, for the most part, at a distance of 20-30 kilometers from the city, surrounding it with a unique semicircle of unique sights. But they are not only masterpieces of architecture and art of St. Petersburg, they are also symbols of the country and its history, which must be carefully protected, passing on to future generations.

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