- Summer Garden
The ensemble of the Summer Gardens and Peter I’s Summer Palace is a magnificent example of early 18th century Russian architecture and landscape gardening.
St. Petersburg's oldest gardens were founded in 1704 in keeping with the instructions and initial design proposed by Peter I. Laid out in the formal style at his summer residence, they were adorned with numerous sculptures and fountains. Unfortunately, the original system of pipes and fountains was destroyed in the flood of 1777 and was never restored. Of the 250 marble sculptures by 17th- and early-18th century Italian masters, only 89 have survived. The Summer Gardens were the venue of Peter's famous evening parties and court celebrations. He also received foreign ambassadors here. Until the end of the 18th century they were open only to a select circle of royal courtiers. Gradually, however, they became one of the most popular pleasure grounds in St. Petersburg.
The strict, modest facades of the Summer Palace (1710-14, architects Domenico Trezzini and Andreas Schluter) are decorated with 29 base reliefs which commend Russia's naval glory. The ground floor houses Peter's two reception rooms, study, bedroom and workshop, as well as his dining-room and kitchen. The apartments of Catherine I on the first floor include the Green Drawing-Room, containing period paintings, furniture, tapestries, glassware and china. In spite of the fact that the palace has undergone numerous reconstructions, the finish and decor of the vestibules, the oak stairs and the upper and lower kitchens have survived.
Some of Peter's and Catherine's clothes and other personal effects are on permanent display. There are a few pavilions in the Summer Garden which house temporary exhibitions. The Summer Gardens are among St. Petersburg's finest cultural landmarks. A visit to the Summer Gardens is a must for all those wishing to absorb the city's atmosphere.