In our previous album, we surveyed the environs of the
State Congress Palace in Strelna.
Today let’s stroll around the park – as far as possible.
We’ll begin with a section of the park’s modern plan borrowed from
recommended). I’ve marked our route (yellow circles) and major sites
The places passed over in the previous album are
on our right: the Baltic Star hotel and cottage blocks.
Now we enter the park premises. Our main targets will be those marked
on the plan: the gates (right and left), the “cellar”, the
Konstantinovsky Palace (below in the middle), the island pavilion
(above, circled by canals), and the Stables court (below on the right,
It is from the latter that we start our hike.
The former Main Stables court is the next - after the palace - most
important historic building.
It was constructed in 1848-1849 by Ch. F.
Meyer, under direction of A.I. Shtakenshneider.
In 1893, the northern part was widened and converted to a riding
ring. Now, upon the reconstruction, it houses administration,
maintenance and security services.
Since the territory is now tightly secured, any movements around are
quite constrained. Besides that, the whole complex may be suddenly
closed without prior notice – for some function or a VIP visit.
One has to buy a ticket (prepare 130 rubles plus 50 for a photo
permit), and then wait till a group of 15 is formed. Tickets are
limited: we arrived at 11:30 and entered the last “wild” group on that
day. After us, only pre-booked groups were allowed, arrived by tour
The tour starts with a check-post,
complete with a metal detector, x-raying of bags, and visual inspection.
The security is run by the FSO - the Federal Protective Service.
They’re quite polite and civilized – the first round is always shot
above the head. A joke :)
A few words about the park’s history.
The first park in Strelna was set up during the Peter I’s reign in 1707
and included a wooden palace, a garden and a couple of fountains – all
still in existence and located a kilometer away to the left.
In 1714-1715, a large regular park was started on this particular
place, also with fountains – for which purpose the Strelka river was
crossed with a dam, resulting in the Orloff pond across the today’s
Peterhof road. Later however it became apparent that the marshes around
Peterhof would allow the fountains to reach higher, so the Strelna works
In 1716, B.-C. Rastrelli designed a general plan of the ensemble.
During the same year all Strelna works were handed over to the architect
In 1719 the work was headed by N. Miketti, who in 1720 built the
foundation of a full-scale palace – almost similar to the existing one.
From 1721 till 1741 the construction was managed by M. G. Zemtsov,
then from 1747 till 1761 by B.-F. Rastrelli.
In 1797, the palace and the park were given to Grand Duke
Constantine, son of Paul I. Another Constantine, son of Nicolas I,
acquired the ownership in 1847, and since then the palace is known as
During the WW2 in 1941 – 1945 many structures, including the palace,
suffered serious damages. After the war the repair works were
undertaken, then abandoned until the latest reconstruction.
Dogs at this secure site are worthy of a special mention. Right after
our passing the check-post, we were accompanied by this doggy. It
behaved nicely – asked for nothing, bit nobody. Approximately at the
middle of the park it disappeared – to be replaced by another one, of
the same “mongrel terrier” breed, under whose escort we proceeded till
I wonder what’s their rank and where do they keep their
The check-post is on the back left.
to the structure on the right…
In theory, it’s a palace cellar, built by
A.I. Shtakenshneider in 1850.
But it seems much more like a bunker.
The rules of conduct on this tour forbid
one to step aside for any notable distance or to lag behind.
by a somewhat nervous mood of our guide, she is regularly reminded of
her security duties.
In fact, the park tour consists of a fast stroll from the check-post
to the palace with several stops. The way back is slightly different (in
this album, the “there” and “back” pictures are arranged rather
topologically than chronologically).
We approach the gate.
Konstantinovsky palace is seen far off.
The gate was designed by F.-B. Rastrelli in the 1750s.
The Stables court has been left behind.
A few words on the organizations that
carried out the reconstruction works:
General designer: GIPRONII
(Design & Projects Institute) of the Academy of Science, St. Petersburg.
General contractor: the 16th Building Company.
Communications & Data systems: the Atlas North-West R&D Center
(associated with the FAPSI governmental security agency).
Hydro-engineering works: the Lenmostostroy company.
And a few more, of course.
Now let’s ascend the stairs and take a
The Stables court and the gate, this time
This is the Upper garden
closer to the palace (which is behind us).
Apparently a transformer booth, built in
Now downstairs again – and the
Konstantinovsky palace is in front of us.
Unable to shoot the palace from an
appropriate distance, let’s settle for such a view.
The Petrovsky canal connects the Finnish
bay with the palace, so it can be reached by boat.
The Eastern and
Western canals run in parallel to the Petrovsky on its left and right,
They are interconnected with other canals forming a kind of network.
One of the several bridges.
larger drawbridge, is situated closer to the bay, unseen from the
The original bridges were lined with limestone, but granite was used
for the current ones.
As far as I understand, the Monument Protection Committee was
unsuccessful in defending its opinion on several reconstruction issues,
including those concerning the palace itself.
The negotiations pavilion.
on the circular Petrovsky island. The Petrovsky canal flows into the
Koltsevoy (Ring) canal that rounds the island. The canal runs into the
bay to the pavilion’s left rather than just behind it – a bit strange in
The area between the Finnish bay and the palace is called Yuzhny
According to various photos, the park currently ends,
on its bay side, with a promenade and a pier, complete with a monument
of Peter I and Catherine I. Some statue of Peter I was also there during
the second half of the XIX c., to the left of the today’s pavilion, but
we have no idea what happened to it.
A modern press center has been built (or rebuilt from a 1960s building?)
on the shore to our right.
The gate opposite to that mentioned
above, on the park’s other side.
Something white on the ground is a sort of small pebbles, an adornment
Because of a tight time schedule, the park is thin on
vegetation: some of the trees had to be cut down in order to lay down
communications lines, and those newly planted still look more like rods.
Interestingly, the whole work area (i.e. everything in your sight)
has been raised with earth by 0.5 meters.
In the next album we’ll look at the
palace from a closer distance: enter the grottos and go upstairs to
enjoy a nice view.
By the way, you may get to Strelna by tram 36 from the Avtovo metro
or take a shuttle minibus, or arrive by train from the Baltiysky