State Reserve-Museum Gatchina
This Reserve-Museum is located in the twon of Gatchina (45km to the south of Saint Petersburg). It is made up of Gatchina Palace and it park as well as the Priory Palace.
Gatchina Palace was designed by architect Antonio Rinaldi at the request of Cahterine the Great. It was built between 1766 and 1781. The palace is made up of a central building flanked by two towers, and linked on each side to semicircular wings by squared buildings with inner courtyards. It underwent several architectural modifications; the main one took place under Nicolas I between 1844 and 1850. The Emperor had a statue of his father Paul I erected in front of the palace. The building was nationalized in 1917 and turned into a museum. German troops put fire to the Palace and bombed its ground as they left in 1944. The restoration started in 1961. However the first exhibitions only opened in 1985. The interior has now been almost entirely renovated.
The park, created in the late 18th century, covers an area of 143 ha. It is made up of English gardens, two lakes, high and low Dutch gardens (a set of three gardens), high and low botanical gardens, labyrinths of water and forest and the Island of love (even garden created on an artificial island). The estate contains another park called “Sylvia” that covers about 154 ha. It belongs to the Priory Palace. It is possible to visit the palace but not the park.
Priory Palace was built in the late 18th century. It was deisgned by Nikolai Lvov and remind of a medieval style catholic Monastery. It was given to the Order of Malta by Paul I. The Emperor granted them refuge after Malta was taken by Napoleon Bonaparte. The order was abolished under Alexander I. The palace went to the crown. It was given various purposes during Soviet times and didn’t suffer from World War II. After a renovation, the palace opened to the public in 2004.