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Peter I Summer Palace
St. Petersburg, the Summer Garden
Metro - Gostiny Dvor, Nevsky Prospekt, Chernyshevskaya
Peter I’s Summer Palace in St Petersburg was built in
The palace has had a fortunate history. Since Peter I’s time the palace hasn’t been rebuilt, though some damage has been done to the interior design. To date, the layout and the exterior of the palace have remained untouched, so have the allegorical ceiling paintings and certain pieces of furniture — pinewood wardrobes, tiled stoves and walls covered with painted Dutch tiles, wooden panels on the walls of the rooms on the first floor, the interior of the Lower and the Upper Kitchen and the Green Study. Peter I’s unique wind indicator in Peter’s Study is still showing the direction and speed of the wind as well as the time. Danzig cupboard on the second floor, according to a legend, was used by Peter for keeping his underwear and jackboots.
The Summer Palace is valuable not only as one of the early architectural monuments of St Petersburg but also as an illustration of the tastes, interests and aspirations of Peter’s, which were all reflected in the architecture of this building.
For his future residence Peter chose a well lived-in and conveniently located farmstead on the headland between the Neva river and the Nameless Canal (today’s Fontanka river). The farmstead was an estate that belonged to Swedish Major E.B. von Konow, comprising a small house with a backyard and a garden. Initially Peter might have stayed in Konow’s house, though, quite likely, there was a house built specially for him from the outset.
The new tsar’s mansion was built by Ivan Matveev (Ugryumov), who was in charge of all construction work at the former Swedish farmstead from 1705 to 1707. It is this mansion that was described in
By order of Peter a stone building was erected by architect Trezzini on the spot of his previous house. On April 17, 1712 Peter moved into the Summer Palace.
After Peter’s death, followed by the death of his wife two years later, the Summer Palace lost its significance as a tsar’s residence. For a while court servants, a linen-keeper with laundresses and seamstresses still lived there, but in the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna, the daughter of Peter I, who revered the memory of her father, the servants moved out and the palace was restored. It was then used as a summer residence for high officials of the time.
An exhibition of paraphernalia dating back to Peter’s time was held in the palace for the 200 year anniversary of St Petersburg. Portraits and prints, banners, armament, pieces of furniture and applied art, books and sketches were brought from royal palaces, the Hermitage, and the state archive. Peter I’s bed brought from Alexander Nevsky Monastery is still on display as part of the palace exhibition.
After 1917 the palace was preserved as a historical and architectural monument but didn’t have a museum status. It was protected and maintained by for guards. In 1925 the palace was handed over to the department of history and living environment of the State Russian Museum, and exhibitions held there were not related to the historical past of the palace.
In 1934 Peter I’s Summer Palace became an independent memorial, historical and art museum. Displayed at the exhibition are Peter I’s clothes, furniture, paintings and prints, and pieces of applied art of Peter I’s time.
During I Patriotic War the Summer Palace was damaged by the blast wave but it was restored as early as 1946 and opened to the public the year after. In the 1960s the palace underwent extensive restoration supervised by architect A.E. Gessen.
Since 2004 the palace has been part of the State Russian Museum.
The Summer Palace of Peter I currently is closed for reconstruction.
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Virtual tour of the museum complex. 2009 (Rus., Eng., Ger., Fin.)
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