Gatchina - the most southern imperial residence in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. Was founded on the site of the ancient Russian Selce; Basin Izhora. In 1734 it became the property of a prominent Seltso Ambassador Alexander Kurakina, whose descendants in 1765 sold it to Catherine II, who at the same time gave the Gatchina favorite Grigory Orlov.
Orlov, inviting himself to Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes his new possession: "... In the 60 miles from Petersburg, I have an estate where the air is healthy, Water is amazing hills surrounding the lake to form corners, nice for walks, and excite a reverie ... "(1766). Construction works in the estate Orlov supervised by A. Rinaldi. In his project and with the participation of the landscape master Charles Sparrow, in an area of 170 hectares in the valley of the River Gatchinki forming at the site of the spill White and Silver Lake, was created by a magnificent park. Center of the ensemble was built on the most highest point of terrain hunting lodge. Its interiors were placed library and collection of paintings, sculpture, porcelain, weapons and laid the beginning of the famous collection of Gatchina. The Palace combines the simple, yet elegant forms of English Gothic and elements of Italian Renaissance. From the park its facade is flanked by towers pentahedral hours (with chimes) and alarm. From the main building of the city together with galleries and buildings, quads (Kitchen and Arsenal) forms kurdoner-ground area of about 10,000 square meters. m. Of particular beauty of the building attached invoice walls lined with stone warm pudostskim Armillaria, which was mined in the vicinity of Gatchina.
Work to create an ensemble of Gatchina, begun in 1766, was completed as a whole in 1781. In 1783, after the death of Orlov in Gatchina a gift from the mother received the Tsarevich Paul Petrovich, the future Paul I. He was attracted to the work of Brenna, who reconstructing the castle as a residence heir, and then the emperor, expanded the front of the palace and continued to work on beautification of the park. In addition to Brenna, in Gatchina worked at the time by architects A. Zakharov, V. Bazhenov, AN Lvov, J. Visconti, JL Veil, K. Plastinin. Under Nicholas I in the 1846-1856 years on R. Kuzmin project in the Arsenal a penalty was equipped with more than two hundred grand and premises - including the theater. In 1851, on the edge of the parade ground was placed a bronze statue of Paul I, the sculptor Ivan Vitali.
The transformation of an old settlement close to St Petersburg into one of the most romantic suburban ensembles began in the 1760s when Catherine II granted these lands to Grigory Orlov. Inviting Jean-Jacques Rousseau to visit him, Orlov wrote, "60 versts from St Petersburg I have an estate where the healthy air, remarkable water and grassy hills around the lake make delightful places to stroll and tempt one to dream."
Construction of the estate was directed by Antonio Rinaldi. Nathaniel Wraxall, an English traveller reported that "the palace of Prince Orlov... is situated in the most attractive spot in the environs of the city and will be splendid when finished. The gardens are being made in the English taste by a man worthy of respect... The quality of the soil and the splendid body of water by the house give him freedom to reveal his genius."
To Rinaldi's design Russia's first landscape park was laid out over an area of 170 hectares, centred on a huge hunting lodge. The project entailed the large-scale planting of oaks, firs, spruce, maple and other trees that enriched the meagre flora of Gatchina.
In 1783, after Orlov's death, Catherine gave Gatchina to her son Paul who, on becoming emperor, raised the estate to the status of a town and set about turning it into an example for the rest of the empire. The Gatchina palace was assigned the role of citadel. The lawn in front was turned into a parade-ground bounded by moats with drawbridges, while Orlov's elegant, poetic castle gradually acquired features of a real fortress.
|Gatchina Palace. Great Gatchina Palace and Castle Park. Private Garden in the Gatchina park. In the halls of the palace. Pavilion of Venus in Gatchina park. On the shore of Baker Lake.|
The Gatchina Palace Interiors
The construction of Orlov's hunting lodge was completed in 1781, after which Rinaldi set about decorating the rooms, which are known to have numbered 600, so the architect can scarcely have decorated them all in Orlov's lifetime.
When the castle passed to Paul (1783), he disliked both the layout and the existing decor and so Vincenzo Brenna, to whom Paul entrusted the reconstruction, was ordered to turn the huge, but cosy castle into a grand palace and to decorate it on an imperial scale. The columned galleries and arcades were nearly all bricked up and second storeys added to the square outer blocks. A grand staircase was created in the central block to give access to the second-storey state rooms from the lobby where the changing of the guard took place.
Paul's throne room took the place ot Orlov's study and a carved wooden throne upholstered in velvet embroidered with the imperial arms was installed there. The interiors of the Gatchina palace -designed by Bazhenov and Voronikhin as well as Brenna, and described by Johann Georgi in the late 1790s as displaying "more taste than splendour" - were almost entirely destroyed during the war and as yet restorers have only recreated a few of the halls. We can get an idea of what they were like from 19th-century watercolours painted by Hau and Premazzi for Nicholas 1 and Alexander II (now in the palace collection).
The State Rooms
We can only guess what the halls of the Gatchina palace looked like in Orlov's day - of Rinaldi's decor only the parquet floors, the shape of the vaults and traces of stuccowork in some rooms survive. But, it would seem that they were no less exquisite than the work the same architect did in the Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum and the Marble Palace in St Petersburg.
In the early 1790s Brenna created a small suite of state rooms in the second storey of the central block and the magnificent Chesme,Armoury and Grecian Galleries in the semicircular wings (extended upwards). The western Stables Block now held a theatre, library and arsenal, and became known as the Arsenal Block. The halls were enriched with ceiling paintings by Bonito and Doyen, canvases by Robert, French tapestries and ancient sculpture.
In 1799 Andreyan Zakharov worked at Gatchina: he completed the second storey of the Kitchen Block and built a new palace church. In the 1850s the architect Roman Kuzmin again reconstructed the Kitchen and Arsenal Blocks, turning the latter into personal apartments for Nicholas I.