The Great Palace in Pavlovsk is built in the classical style and consists of eight sections comprising 303 rooms with a total area of 11,542 square meters.
The original design from which the palace was erected in 1782-1786 belongs to Charles Cameron, an architect invited to Russia by Catherine the Great. Cameron did not design a single edifice in his native Scotland or in the rest of the British Isles. He was known there mainly for his studies of Roman architecture.
In Russia Cameron found suitable conditions for putting his creative ideas into practice. His design for the palace at Pavlovsk was based on a villa found in Roman architecture. However, he also made use of specifically Russian architectural features employed in the country estates of the nobility. The foundation stone of the palace was laid on May 25, 1782, but the ceremony was not attended by its owners for Paul and his wife Maria Fyodorovna were travelling in Western Europe at the time. The building progressed at a rapid pace and by the autumn of 1782 not only the main building, but also the side galleries had been erected, in 1783 work began on the interior décor of the state and private apartments in the main building.
It must be said that the architect and the owner were not always on the best of terms. Constant interference with the architect’s plans and trivial objections to them were a great hindrance to Cameron and occasionally led to serious conflicts. In 1786 Paul put Cameron’s assistant Vincenzo Brenna in charge of the building and interior décor. By then the planning of the palace interior had been completed for the main part. Cameron just had time to finish the state apartments on the ground floor of the main building: the Ballroom, the Old Drawing-Room, the Billiard Room and the White Dining Hall.