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Palace and park ensemble of Pavlovsk is one of the most mesmerizing and enigmatic places located 27 kilometers from Saint-Petersburg. In comparison to other imperial summer residences this complex doesnít aim to strike you with lavishness of decoration, on the contrary intimate and harmonious atmosphere of this place is bound to charm you with simplicity of forms and elegance of lines. According to the inscription on the obelisk which commemorates the foundation of Pavlovsk, it history dates back to 1777 when Catherine the Great presented this plot of land to her son Paul on the birth of his first son, the future emperor Alexander I. The dense forests of the original estate were used for court hunting before this picturesque spot was converted into the unrivalled gala residence of the emperor Paul I and his beloved spouse Maria Feodorovna.
The construction of the palace began in 1782 under the supervision of the famous scottish architect Charles Cameron, who, being the favourite architect of Catherine the Great was an ardent admirer of ancient greek and roman art, so it was not surprisingly that he decided to accomplish the whole building in classical style combining the heritage of Ancient Rome with modern and innovative ideas.When Paul I ascended the throne this simplicity could no longer satisfy him so he commissioned Vincenzo Brenna to enlarge the whole complex thus creating the lure of magnificience. Among other prominent architects who contributed to the alteration of the Pavlovsk complex were Thomas de Thomon , Giacomo Quarenghi Carlo Rossi, and Andrei Voronikhin. The Palace is inseparable from the world-famous Pavlovsk garden, one of the most poetic and picturesque landscape parks in Europe which was laid out to the design of the unrivalled genius of landscape gardening Pietro Gonzaga.
Itís worth mentioning that the owners of the Palace contributed a lot to its interior decoration. The diversity of the palaceís collection is closely connected with the journey of its owners round Europe under the pseudonyms of Count and Countess Severnyi in 1781-82 where they visited workshops of well-known artists, ordering and acquiring paintings, furniture, bronze, silk fabrics, china sets, etc. Paul and Maria also brought to Russia a large number of antique sculptures from Italy, and gifts from European royal courts. Many of these treasures are on display, together with an excellent collection of portraits accomplished by Russian artists, and a number of Pavlovsk landscape paintings and drawings.
Entering the palace, you will find yourself in the Egyptian anteroom with 12 old Egyptian style statues. Climbing the Parade staircase and passing to the Parade antechamber, one gets a chance to see a suite of wonderful rooms: gold sparkling Italian hall with a glass cupola, the Greek hall with emerald green colonnade, the Hall of War and the Hall of Peace, the Chevalier and the Dancing halls, the Throne hall and others.
Premises of Paul I reflect the emperor''s affection to the art of war and the ancient heroes. Paul was the Maltese Grossmeister, and the palace''s Knight hall was specially designed to carry out the appropriate ceremonies. You will also get acquanted with the story of relationship between the emperor and his wife Maria Fedorovna and see her ravishingly beautiful suite of rooms.
Despite all testing times Pavlovsk had gone through, the fate has been merciful to the palace collection. Although during World War 2 the place was occupied by the Nazi and suffered during the disastrous fire, nevertheless it should be mentioned that not only invaluable items but also exhibits with lesser artistic value had been evacuated thus the palace was saved from looting. In 1950 it was decided to start the reconstruction of the palace and presently 45 halls which help to reveal the mystery of Paulís I personality, who was not only a a precise military parades'' esteemer and a great tyrant but also a loving and caring husband, are open to the public. Though it was enormous effort the restores managed to revive the unsurpassed beauty of this enigmatic summer residence.