Summer Palace and Gardens

Peter’s Humble Palace

On first glance you wouldn’t think much of the yellow, two-storey house further up the road from the Winter Palace and across the Swan Canal. Built between 1710-1714 this was in fact Peter the Great’s primary residence and one of the first brick buildings in St. Petersburg.

There is a lot to learn about the founder of St. Petersburg inside, serving as an experimental wood workshop and a meteorogical station. A stark contrast to the elaborate Winter Palace, the Summer Palace feels more like a home, a large house for a seemingly practical man. The study room shows Peter’s fascination with the sea featuring an original and intricate wind device, paintings of ships and even his skipper uniform. Upstairs you find the bedrooms of Peter and his family such as a nursery and the room of his wife, Catherine.

Gardens of Romance and Learning

South of the Summer Palace Peter chose an area where architects and designers transformed the marshy land into a formal Dutch-style garden that served as a retreat for learning. The assorted flora brought in from across Europe was accompanied by sculptures, an amphitheatre, green-houses, a pond, cascade, rare animals and over 60 fountains. Unfortunately destruction wrought by floods and World War II changed the appearance dramatically, yet it still retains its enriching and charismatic atmosphere.

Lime and maple trees and marble statues line Main Avenue that leads through the centre of the garden. These statues were commissioned by Peter from Italian baroque sculptors, though around 90 remain from the more than 200 original statues. These formed Russia’s first collection of sculptures and were intended to familiarise the people with art, antiquity and mythology. Travel to st Petersburg