In 1777, work began on an estate by the banks of the Slavianka, given by Catherine II to her son, the future Emperor Paul I. Originally, only two modest wooden cottages were built. Later, in 1782-86, Charles Cameron erected a palace and laid out a park. The harmonious ensemble of Pavlovsk was created within a period of 50 years.
The Great Palace, a splendid specimen of Russian Neoclassicism, is remarkable for its perfect proportions and refined decor. Together with the low galleries, leading to the wings (rebuilt in the 1770s by Vincenzo Brenna), the palace looks out onto a large open courtyard. After the fire of 1803, the palace was reconstructed under the supervision of Andrei Voronikhin. The staterooms, which were adorned with sculptures, carvings and paintings, were decorated through the combined efforts of the architects Voronikhin, Cameron, Brenna, Quarenghi and Carlo Rossi, the sculptors Ivan Martos, Ivan Prokofiev, Mikhail Kozlovsky and Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky and the painters Pietro Gonzago and Giovanni Battista Scotti.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a landscaped park was created on the banks of the Slavianka. Unlike many of the structured gardens, which can be seen in Peterhof and Pushkin, the gardens at Pavlovsk are wilder, with rivers, woodland and winding paths ready to be explored. Part of the grounds - the "Private Garden" and the Great Circles - have retained features of a regular garden, decorated with sculptures and elements of landscape architecture. In the park one can see Cameron's Pavilion of the Three Graces, Temple to Friendship, Aviary and Apollo Colonnade. The Peel Tower (by Brenna) and the Rose Pavilion (by Voronikhin and Rossi) are also situated within the grounds.
After the 1917 revolution, this residence of the Russian emperors became a museum. During the Second World War the palace was ruined by the Nazis and restoration work continued until 1970. Today, all 45 of its rooms are open to visitors, including such gems of Neoclassical art as the Italian and Grecian Halls, which are notable for their lavish use of artificial marble, moulding and gilding. Art collections that began to take shape under Paul I and Empress Maria Feodorovna are on display in the halls. Among them are a rare collection of antique sculptures, a superb collection of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Hubert Robert and Jose Ribera, and examples of Western European and Russian decorative and applied art.
The Pavlovsk palace museum and beautiful parks surrounding it are very popular with both the residents and guests of St. Petersburg. In keeping with a long-established tradition, concerts of classical music are held regularly in the Grecian Hall.