Russia Peterhof Villa Belvedere


Near Peterhof was an elevation known to the indigenous Finnish population as Pappingongo (“Priest’s Parish”). When Russian settlers moved in, they renamed it Babiy Gon or Babigon. A magnificent view opened up from the hill onto the surrounding countryside and the Gulf of Finland. In 1852, Heinrich Stackenschneider began building a palace, which was named Belvedere.

Richly decorated with twenty-eight columns and set on a high granite podium, Belvedere closely resembled an ancient temple. In 1856, two groups of Horse Tamers by Baron Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg – copies of the sculptures that stand on the Anichkov Bridge in St Petersburg – were installed next to the palace. A magnificent park with pergolas was laid out on the surrounding slopes.

Belvedere was the scene of an important episode in the private life of Tsar Alexander II. It was here, on 1 July 1866, that the young Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukaya finally became his lover. For many years to come, both remembered and always marked this date.

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