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Konstantin Palace in Strelna: an Attempt to Surpass Versailles

The Konstantin Palace (Konstantinovsky Palace) in Strelna was conceived by the first Russian emperor as a grand palace, which is able to compete with the French Versailles by the richness of interiors, gardens and parks. But Peter the Great failed to see the implemented idea till the end, and the palace was completed after his death.

Peter I found a site for the grandiose residence even in 1709, but the palace was founded only 11 years later, and in 1725, after the emperor’s death, the construction was stopped. Moreover, during his lifetime it turned out that smooth operation of fountains (without which any rivalry with Versailles was out of question) could be arranged only in Peterhof, but not in Strelna. The construction works of the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna were resumed only 20 years later by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. He redesigned the palace, built a large grand staircase and designed a pass-through arch. In the late XVIII century the palace ceased to be imperial and went to Constantine, the son of Paul I, under whom the palace was restructured: there appeared a belvedere, and the interiors were remade in antique style. In the mid-19th century, bay windows and balconies were added to the Palace and a family chapel was arranged.

In early-Soviet period the Konstantinovsky Palace was used as a school and a health resort; in the Great Patriotic War the building was almost destroyed, and after the restoration it was occupied by an Arctic College. In the XXI century the desolate palace, as well as the neglected park with a canal system started to be restored using the old drawings. The palace, recreated on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg, successfully hosted two major summits - G-8 and G-20. Now it is the residence of the Russian president. However, the palace is open to the tour visits. Here in the Konstantinovsky Palace you can see the famous collection of Russian art of the great musicians Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya - painting, graphics, porcelain and handicrafts; on display is also the Naryshkin treasure – nearly two thousand silverware (dishes and awards). In addition, excursions are organized to the wine cellars of the Palace, with tasting of the wines being dear to taste of Catherine the Great and other Russian monarchs, as well as the president of Russia.

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Beryozovaya al 3 A
198515, SanktPeterburg
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