The Catherine Palace

This palace complex with its lengthy facades of intense red color and courtyards is one of the most significant works of Russian classicism as well as a monument of an entire epoch. It was the only estate that was used as a ceremonial imperial residence through most of the 18th century. This palace is not to be confused with the more famous and grand Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg.

The estate of Fyodor Golovin was situated at this place (on the left bank of the Yauza River) at the beginning of the 18th century; he was a diplomat and a counsellor of Peter I as well as the first Russian-by-birth admiral.
The first admiral’s estate and the Lefortovo Palace, which had been built by Peter I with the use of state funds at the Yauza’s right bank in 1699, were utilised by the Tsar as assembly halls. Following Golovin’s death Peter I directed the Palace administration to purchase the estate and its surroundings.

The architectural ensemble got its imperial lustre and scale during the reign of the Empress Anna Ivanovna. She used to arrange festivities at Golovin’s house and its park and she liked the place so much that the Empress decided to build another palace nearby – the wooden Summer Palace. Later, the Winter Palace was moved from the Kremlin to this place and it was merged with the Golovin Estate. A U-shaped channel with a harbour appeared in front of the palace; a vast park was laid out on the other side. The entire estate received the name “Annenhof”.

Trees and bushes that were planted in the park were delivered from abroad. Tulips, daffodils, lilies and other plants were regularly bought for the flower-beds. Few people know it was here where the first hyacinths in Russia blossomed. Sixteen breeds of plants were ordered for the Annenhof Garden from Holland.

The general arrangement of the estate became more complicated during the reign of the Empress Elizabeth; the Resurrection Church had emerged beside the Winter Palace. The lower park was adorned with fountains, pergolas and sculptures. A theatre named the “Opera house” was erected not far from the Palace bridge downstream the Yauza river.
The wooden buildings were demolished during the reign of Catherine the Great and the vacant place was used in order to build a new palace for Catherine by the architect Antonio Rinaldi. This stone palace created by a series of outstanding architects exists until now.

A new building was attached to the north side of the Catherine palace in 1828 which was used for the allocation of the Second Cadet Corps. The Military Academy of Armed Forces occupied the Palace starting from 1937. At the present time the Russian Federation Armed Forces Combined Arms Academy is situated at this place.

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