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|Monday||10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Mikhailovsky Palace, Benois Wing are open until 8:p.m.|
|Tuesday||The Museum is closed|
|Wednesday||10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Thursday||1:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.|
|Friday||10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Saturday||10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|Sunday||10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
Ticket offices close 30 minutes earlier
Mikhailovsky Garden is a very rare monument of landscape design of the XVIII — early XIX century, representing a unique combination of two different styles of landscaping — regular, or “French”, style, and landscape, or “English”, style. It is also a great example of architectural cohesion of a man-made structure (Mikhailovsky Palace) and natural landscape (Mikhailovsky Garden), created by a prominent architect Carlo Rossi.
Mikhailovsky Garden forms part of a larger landscape composition in the heart of St Petersburg that also comprises the Summer Garden and the Field of Mars. Over many years of its existence the layout of the garden has been changed several times in accordance with the fashion and the tastes of its owners.
Originally the land now occupied by the Summer and Mikhailovsky Gardens, as well as the garden surrounding Engineers’ Castle, and Engineers’ Park, was occupied by villages as well as an estate and hunting grounds of the Swedish Captain Konow — as shown in the documents of 1698. In
Leblond’s plan was essentially an idea of creating a grand unified ensemble of parks and palaces. All sketches, personally approved by Peter I, were included in the plan. The north-eastern area comprising Catherine I’s palace was of formal design. The sketch depicting the palace is almost identical to the layout of the central part of Peter I’s Upper Palace in Peterhof. Pyramid-shaped fur trees grew beside the palace. An alley lined with chestnut trees went towards the parterre with trellis gazebo and a geometrically shaped pool with a fountain and sculptures.
The south-western side of the garden was originally laid out as a regular orchard. The Russian imperial court garden with its plantations of fruit trees, herbs and roots, had greenhouses, conservatories and cellars for growing exotic plants and fruit. During the reign of Anna Ioannovna part of the Swedish Garden comprised plots with “spare” maple trees — a nursery. Besides, there was a so-called “yagd-garten” — small hunting grounds, where hares and deer were kept in special fenced areas for royal hunts.
In 1741 Empress Elizaveta Petrovna suggested that Rastrelli design a new Summer palace on the site of Catherine I’s palace and the surrounding garden. In April 1743 Rastrelli presented a plan of a labyrinth-shaped garden decorated with sculpture and fountains. Behind the palace was another formal garden with two geometrically shaped ponds, a fountain and a lace patterned flowerbed. The Swedish Garden underwent some changes too. The area was divided into geometrically shaped plots with intersecting alleys, with five rectangular ponds dug in the middle. Thus, it could be said, the Third Summer Garden and the Swedish Garden represented another example of the Russian landscaping art of the XVIII century.
By order of Pavel I, Elizaveta’s palace was dismantled and Mikhailovsky Castle was built on its foundation in
Mikhailovsky Castle was built as an inaccessible fortress with draw-bridges, surrounded by water. The canals (the Resurrection, the Church and the Bypass Canals) around the castle (and the square in front of it with an equestrian statue of Peter I) formed a grandiose architectural ensemble of the XVIII century, unparalleled in the world architecture. The Third Summer Garden became known as the Upper Summer Garden and Mikhailovsky Garden. The layout of the Swedish Garden and its role as an orchard (in the western part) and a formal garden for walks (in the eastern part) didn’t change. Unfortunately, the unique ensemble didn’t last long in this guise. After Pavel I’s assassination the castle was no longer used as a royal residence. The royal family moved out of the castle, and the park and canals eventually became dilapidated. In 1822 the castle was handed over to the Central College of Engineering.
1819 saw a new stage in the evolution of the gardens. A large contribution to the reorganization of the gardens was made by architect C. I. Rossi. On the site of the old greenhouses adjoining the Upper Summer Garden from the south, by order of Alexander I Rossi implemented one of the most grandiose projects — the construction of Mikhailovsky Palace for Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. This involved the reorganization of Mikhailovsky Garden, and renovation of the square facing the southern facade of the new palace. Essentially, this was the last palace ensemble built in the city. The final project for renovation of the garden next to Mikhailovsky Palace, designed by Rossi in cooperation with architect A. Menelas, was approved by the Emperor in April 1822. In 1823 Emperor Alexander I approved Rossi’s plan for reorganization of the area around Mikhailovsky Castle. Following the plan, the Church Canal was filled in and the eastern geometric pond in Mikhailovsky Garden was made smaller. Only the Resurrection Canal along the southern facade of the castle was left untouched. However, Rossi preserved the unique water system of the ponds of Mikhailovsky Garden and canals of Mikhailovsky Castle, adding an underground collector which connected the largest pond with the Moika river, thus providing additional water circulation. In accordance with the plan, two rows of pruned trees were planted around Mikhailovsky Castle.
A characteristic feature of the layout of Mikhailovsky Garden in Rossi’s plan was preservation of certain areas designed by Leblond and Rastrelli. C. Rossi created an exemplary English style garden, using all methods typical of landscape style and borrowed from English landscaping and architecture of
There were many flowerbeds and shrubs in blossom in Mikhailovsky garden. The most valuable part of the layout preserved by Rossi during the renovations was the system of alleys forming the centrepiece of the composition. Some of the plants along the alleys were preserved, and picturesque groups of trees were added. Before the revolution the garden was a court garden and was closed to the general public. The later history of Mikhailovsky Garden is as tragic as the history of all historic areas.
In 1902 the smaller eastern pond grew shallow and was filled in. At the same time, due to the construction of the Church of Resurrection (architect A.A. Parland) and the new garden railing, the western part of the garden became considerably smaller.
In 1922 the garden was renamed IOFR Garden (International Organization of Fighters for the Revolution). The former Mikhailovsky Garden under this “poetic” new name was turned into a common city park. A path was laid across the English lawn, special areas were designed for stages and pavilions where exhibitions were held in 1924. Later they were replaced by children’s playgrounds. In the early 1960s the construction of a tennis court and a public toilet was allowed. Trees and shrubs were planted haphazardly. Growing trees eventually covered the facade of Mikhailovsky Palace and the view from the palace to the Field of Mars. Changes were made yearly, moving further away from a once majestic historic landscape.
An examination in 2000 indicated that the garden was in critical condition. Mikhailovsky Garden underwent extensive restoration in
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