Russia Geography Peterhof


When Peterhof was awarded the status of a district centre in 1849, it had already grown from a royal hamlet into a regular European municipality. Between 1827 and 1857, the town was reconstructed on the basis of a plan drawn up by Joseph-Jean Charlemágne. The streets were paved and many new edifices were built. Charlemágne designed homes for courtiers, a theatre, guardhouse, police station, fire station, prison and riding school in the Neoclassical style.

The architecture of Peterhof changed after 1850, when Nicolas Benois was appointed the principal architect and began creating new structures in the Gothic Revival style. The result was an eclectic mixture of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque buildings. In 1853, Heinrich Stackenschneider designed a house in the Neo-Renaissance style. The Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, which opened in 1905, was built in the Neo-Russian style by Vasily Kosyakov and Nikolai Sultanov.

During the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, the surrounding countryside was transformed from forestland and swamps into a green chain of new parks. The emperor wanted Peterhof to become the centre of a world of summer palaces, villas, pavilions, parks, meadows, ponds, lakes and groves. The heart of each new park was usually a romantic pavilion built on an island, in the middle of a large pond or lake.

The centre of the Alexander Park (1832–36), lying to the south of Alexandria, was Charlemágne’s Swiss Cabin. Heinrich Stackenschneider built the Tsaritsa and Olga Pavilions for Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna and her daughter Olga on two islands in the middle of the Olga Pond in the Colonists Park (1832–38). The Tsaritsa Pavilion resembled an ancient villa, while the Olga Pavilion was more like a Renaissance house.

Stackenschneider built a multitude of pavilions and summerhouses in the Meadow Park, which spread out over eight ponds. The Rural Cabin, the Rose Pavilion, the Mill and the Ruins were often visited by the members and guests of the imperial family. In 1852, Stackenschneider built Belvedere high up on Babigon Hill. Designed in the style of an ancient temple, it commanded stunning views onto Peterhof and Kronstadt.

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