Summer Palace

The Summer Palace stands in the north-east corner of the Summer Garden. The first wooden palace was built on the “summer allotment” laid out by Peter the Great on a plot of land between the River Neva and the River Fontanka (1704). Domenico Trezzini designed a new stone palace with contributions from Andreas Schlüter and Nicola Michetti (1710–14). The exterior decor was sculpted by Andreas Schlüter and Georg Johann Mattarnovi. The twenty-nine bas-reliefs between the windows on the ground and first floors depict, in an allegorical form, the victories of the fledgling Russian fleet over the Swedes in the Great Northern War. A small mooring point was constructed before the palace and joined to the Fontanka, allowing ships to sail right up to the entrance. Peter the Great held garden parties and receptions in the palace, ending in firework shows and promenades in the Summer Garden. No one lived there for a long time after the deaths of Peter I (1725) and Catherine I (1727). The palace later hosted meetings of the Supreme Privy Council and housed courtiers (mid-18th to early 19th century). After the revolution, the Summer Palace was turned into a museum of everyday objects from the early eighteenth century (1924). Several generations of curators carefully preserved the original purposes of each palace room and the exhibits relating to the life of Peter the Great and the imperial family. Each year, this relatively small palace of only twelve rooms was visited by around half a million visitors. After the Summer Palace was awarded to the Russian Museum (2004), work began on the renovation of the building, intended to restore the original historical layout and interior decor.

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