|The Summer Palaces
The following palaces beyond the outskirts of St Petersburg are together known as the Summer Palaces. Petrodvorets is a former summer palace of Tsar Peter the Great and is known for its stunning cascades and fountains. It is located 34km from St Petersburg on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.
The tsar designed the initial plans himself, and he appointed Russian and European architects to realise his grand project, which was intended to rival Versailles. Oranienbaum was built as the summer residence for Alexander Menshikov, Peter the Great’s associate. From here, Alexander oversaw the construction of Kronstadt naval fortress on the nearby Kotlin Island. Luckily, the palace and its parkland escaped damage during World War II. Its Chinese and Sliding Hill Pavilions are extraordinarily beautiful.
The Grand Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo was built for the wife of Peter the Great. Scottish architect Charles Cameron designed some of the interiors, although a greater number by Bartholomeo Rastrelli survive. Pushkin spent his formative years in the town. Cameron also designed the subtle buildings at nearby Pavlovsk, which were intended to complement the beauty of parkland. The park itself, designed by the Italian Gonzago, is one of the best landscaped parks in all of Europe. The estate was originally part of Tsarskoye Selo, but Catherine II gave it to Paul (her son). Although she commissioned Cameron to design the estate, Paul, whose relationship with his mother was edgy, decided to redecorate the palace.