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The Priory Palace in Gatchina has never been used for its intended purpose, that is, as a residence of the Prior of the Maltese Order. It was a place of summer rest of Emperor Paul I. Almost abandoned in the XIX century, today the palace is one-of-a-kind from the architectural point of view.
Peterhof is the former country retreat of the imperial family, a huge palace and park ensemble. It was founded in 1710. The general plan of Peterhof was drawn up upon the sketches of Peter the Great, who wanted to build something even more grandiose than Versailles. The dominant of the ensemble is the Baroque Grand Peterhof Palace of the XVIII century, with 30 richly decorated and gold-studded rooms. The palace rises above the Grand Cascade leading to the garden area.
The Novgorod Kremlin is a fortress on the left bank of the Volkhov River. This is one of the most visited attractions of the city, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In olden days this grandiose structure was affectionately called "Detinets". Historians suppose that the word "detinets" derived from the word "children", as children were primarily hidden in the fortress during the enemy attacks on the city.
Porkhov Fortress, built at the beginning of the 14th century, has not been used since the 15th century, and is therefore well preserved. It is interesting as a unique monument of military architecture. Here, for example, one can see how the medieval fortification structure «zahab» looked like (from Old Russian — «sleeve»). This is a narrow corridor, usually connecting the outer and inner gates of the fortress. By the form it really looks like a sleeve. If the attackers managed to break through the outer gates, they were trapped under the crossfire of the defenders of the fortress and usually suffered heavy losses.
The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was founded on the shore of Lake Siverskoye in 1397 by Kirill the Belozersky (Kirill of Beloozero), the former archimandrite of Moscow Simonov Monastery. Now the monastery is located within the limits of the town of Kirillov, 130 kilometers to the north-west of Vologda.
The name of Mon Repos Park means «My rest» or «My repose» in French. This rocky landscape park lies along the shoreline of the Zashchitnaya inlet of the Vyborg Bay. Here the pristine Karelian nature coexists with the man-made creations: houses, pavilions, bridges and statues.
The construction of the Vologda Kremlin began under Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who wanted to turn the city into a northern fortress. A five-domed stone St. Sophia Cathedral, a replica of the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, was erected here during the period from 1568 to 1570. However, the Tsar’s plan to build a Kremlin in Vologda larger than that of Moscow remained unfulfilled because of his unexpected departure from the city.
In 1992, the Solovetsky Monastery was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The foundation of this monastery is connected with the monks Savvaty, German and Zosima. As legend has it, the first church was built on an island in the White Sea in 1436, at the site where Zosima saw the image of a shining temple. Now the relics of Zosima, Savvaty and German are one of the main relics of the monastery.
The pedestrian Chumbarova-Luchinskogo Avenue, in popular parlance called Chumbarovka, is the most picturesque street in Arkhangelsk, a real open-air museum. Here you can see old houses gathered from different parts of the city and copies of interesting wooden buildings of the early XX century. For example, the so-called Marfin House was the headquarters of the Commercial Assembly. It was here that the Soviet rule was proclaimed in the Arkhangelsk Governorate. Before the revolution, Marfin House hosted balls, banquets, card games and a game of billiards. The wooden two-story art nouveau Ovchinnikov House, built in 1912, stands out with an original corner bay-window topped with a turret above the entrance.
Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg was built by design of Emperor Paul I and became a place where his life was cut short. In addition, it is the only known case in the history of Russian architecture, when a building of a secular purpose did not assume its owner’s name.
Kronstadt is an age-mate of the northern capital. The fortress town was built with the aim to close the stream channel leading to the Neva River mouth. Quays, warehouses and harbors appeared there first, and the central fortress was built in 1723. Erection of fortifications here lasted up to the twentieth century. Although these forts have lost their military importance, they remain the most significant fortifications in the Baltic Sea. And that very fortress has survived in the form of several barracks and the Northern rampart.
Peter the Great planned the Summer Garden as a place for cultural recreation of citizens. The emperor personally developed the garden’s project: straight alleys, trimmed bushes, flowerbeds, fountains and statues. By the way, the Fontanka River was so named thanks to the waterlocked Summer Garden: the river was called Bezymyannyi Yerik (Anonymous Creek) by the time it appeared, and its water was used for the garden fountains.