Russia Peterhof Alexandria The Cottage

The Cottage

The Cottage was built in the Gothic Revival style by Adam Menelaws between 1826 and 1829. Intended as a place of summer relaxation for the family of Tsar Nicholas I, the building stands in the eastern section of Alexandria and was inspired by the suburban villas of wealthy Scots seen by Nicholas on his visit to Edinburgh in 1816.

The arcades were decorated with sculptures cast in St Petersburg in the early nineteenth century, while the interiors were filled with works of porcelain, glass and bronze crafted in a medieval style. The Cottage also housed a first-class collection of painting and sculpture by such masters as Hovhannes Aivazovsky, Orest Kiprensky, Sylvester Schedrin and Ivan Vitali.

The rooms were decorated with Gothic Revival furniture designed by Heinrich Hambs. The parquet floors were designed by Adam Menelaws and made by two well-known joiners, Andrei Tarasov and Mikhail Znamensky, who had worked in other palaces in St Petersburg. The original floors still survive in the majority of rooms.

In 1841, Heinrich Stackenschneider added rectangular premises with a balcony to the east of the building. Giovanni Battista Scotti designed the paintwork on the staircase in imitation of the interior of a Gothic cathedral.

The Cottage was the favourite suburban residence of the last four generations of the Romanov dynasty. Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna was born there on 1 June 1882 – the first child to be born “in the purple” since the seventeenth century.

The Cottage was nationalised and turned into a museum after the revolution. The building suffered during the German occupation from 1941 to 1944, but was successfully restored between 1976 and 1979.

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