The world-famous palace, fountain and park ensemble of Peterhof is an outstanding landmark of Russian artistic culture of the 18-19th centuries. Founded in the very beginning of the eighteenth century by Emperor Peter the Great not far from his new northern capital St. Petersburg, Peterhof was envisioned as the most splendid official royal summer residence. Credit for its creation belongs to a great number of eminent architects, artists and anonymous folk craftsmen. Its wonderful parks, 176 fountains of various forms and styles, four cascades, majestic palaces, numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes, remarkable collections of sculptures, paintings and works of the minor art make Peterhof, often called "Capital of Fountains," a vertible gem of art unique in the world. After 1917, the Peterhof ensemble became state property and was turned into an architecture and art museum. Nowadays, due to the unforgettable beauty of its fountains, parks and palaces, Peterhof has become many Russian and foreign visitors' favorite suburban royal park and palace ensemble of Russia's Northern Capital. To enjoy a happy time and lift their spirits, people often come to Peterhof and marvel at its magical charm. All the fountains function from May to mid October, daily, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tsarskoye Selo (Russian: Ца́рское Село́; may be translated as "Tsar's Village") is a former residence of the Russian imperial family. It is now a part of the town of Pushkin and is included in the list of the World Heritage Sites of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments.
In 1708, Peter the Great gave the estate to his wife—future Empress Catherine I—as a present. It was Catherine who started to develop the property as a royal country residence. Her daughter, Empress Elizabeth and her architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli were largely responsible for the construction of the Catherine Palace. Later Empress Catherine II of Russia and her architect Charles Cameron extended the Palace building and created what is now known as the famous Cameron Gallery.
Currently, there are two imperial palaces: the baroque Catherine Palace with the adjacent Catherine Park and the neoclassical Alexander Palace with the adjacent Alexander Park. By the end of the 18th century, Tsarskoye Selo became a popular summer residence among the nobility. In 1811, Alexander I opened the celebrated Lyceum next door to the Catherine Palace. Aleksandr Pushkin was one of the Lyceum's first graduates, followed by Alexander Gorchakov and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin. The literary traditions of Tsarskoye Selo continued into the 20th century by such notable poets as Anna Akhmatova and Innokenty Annensky. Most attractive in the palace is the famous Amber Room. The Original Amber Room was created from 1701 to 1709 in Prussia and remained at Charlottenburg Palace until 1716 when it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of the Russian Empire. The Amber Room was looted during World War II by Nazi German forces and taken to Königsberg. Knowledge of its whereabouts was lost in the chaos of the end of the war. Its fate remains a mystery, and the search for the Amber Room continues to this day. A reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in 2003 in the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The history of Pavlovsk as a splendid palace and park ensemble dates back to the 12th of December 1777 when Catherine the Great gave a small piece of land, 6 km from Tsarskoye Selo, to her son Paul and his wife Maria Fyodorovna on the occasion of the birth of their first son, the future Emperor Alexander I. The new estate was named Pavlovskoye Village, but shortly after the construction of the palace and park ensemble began, under the supervision of prominent architects, the beautiful estate could hardly be called a village. In 1779 in Pavlovkoye, two small wooden palaces, one in honor of Paul and the other in honor of Maria, were built. In 1780, the constructed palaces grew in scale as Catherine the Great's favorite architect, Charles Cameron, was invited to design the ensemble. The foundation stone of the Great Palace was laid on the 25 of May 1782 and already by 1786. the new palace, a marvelous example of Russian Classicism, was erected.
Along with the construction of the palace, the landscape park that was designed to imitate living nature was laid down. The exceptionally beautiful natural surroundings suggested that the architectural solutions and talented architects masterfully combined the natural landscape with the manmade architectural construction. The park appeared to be diverse throughout the whole ensemble. The landscape park of Pavlovsk is one of the largest in Europe - it stretches across the impressivly large territory of 600 hectares.
After the tragic death of Paul I, Pavlovsk was given to Maria Fyodorovna who loved this residence very much and did a lot to make Pavlovsk's palace and park even more beautiful.
Soon after the Revolution of 1918, the palace and the park of Pavlovsk were declared a museum complex. During World War II, Pavlovsk suffered great damages - the palace were plundered, several pavilions were destroyed, and the parks lost many precious trees. However, in comparison with other former imperial residences that lay in ruins, the ensemble of Pavlovsk was not as terribly damaged.
Thanks to the efforts of restorers and artists, the palace and park ensemble of Pavlovsk has been entirely recreated and fascinates the visitor with its classic, strict and harmonious beauty. Nowadays, the Palace of Pavlovsk houses the permanent exhibition of Russian portraiture. Visitors are welcome to walk through the chambers of Empress Maria Fyodorovna and admire the original interiors and belongings of Russian tsars, created for them by the best artists of that time.
Kronstadt (Russian: Кроншта́дт), also spelled Kronshtadt, Cronstadt (German: Krone for "crown" and Stadt for "city"); (Finnish: Retusaari) is a municipal town in Kronshtadtsky District of the federal city of St. Petersburg, Russia, located on Kotlin Island, 30 kilometers (19 mi) west of Saint Petersburg proper near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Population: 42,999
It is also St. Petersburg's main seaport. In March 1921, it was the site of the Kronstadt rebellion. Traditionally, the seat of the Russian admiralty and the base of the Russian Baltic Fleet were located in Kronstadt guarding against any military advances on Saint Petersburg. The historic centre of the city and its fortifications are part of the World Heritage Site Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments. Kronstadt also has been a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians for many years due to the holy memory of Saint John of Kronstadt. Bus and water tours to Kronstadt are available daily from Saint Petersburg.