Peter the Great Summer Palace
Commissioned by Peter the Great in 1710 and designed in the Dutch style- or Petrine Barocco - by the first architect of Saint Petersburg, Domenico Trezzini, the Summer Palace was completed in 1714, and currently is the oldest stone building in the city, with a large and beautiful stone balustrade running along the Neva.
Andreas Schluter, a Prussian architect and sculptor, was engaged to decorate the exterior, and his wonderful marine-themed bas-reliefs celebrated Russia’s naval victories. Despite being designed for the Emperor, the house is not at all in the style of grand palaces – it only had fourteen rooms which Peter shared with Catherine 1. Peter’s rooms were on the ground floor, and those of his wife on the second.
Neither from its exterior appearance nor its internal arrangements, does it differ from the plainest moderate sized house of a private individual, such as is to be met with in every part of Holland, a short distance from the cities. This was the Summer Palace of the Founder of the Russian Monarchy.
St. Petersburgh, a journal of travels to and from that capital - Augustus Bozzi Granville
Lathes and machinery occupy one of Peter’s rooms, showing his predilection for technology and manual work (Peter mastered 14 crafts in his lifetime), while another one was given over to his wind measuring instrument made in Germany in 1914.
Always keen on odd things (lest it be forgotten that Peter the Great founded the Kunstkamera), Peter had glass cabinets filled with curiosities in the Green Room.
The original novelty in city building was the introduction of the first-ever plumbing system – the water pipes brought water to the kitchen.
There were two dining-rooms in the great Summer Palace, one on the ground floor, and another on the first, each with its own kitchen beside it. Peter found time, in 1714, to give his most minute attention to the arrangement of these kitchens. He insisted on their being comparatively spacious, with tiled walls, so, he said, that the haziatka (mistress of the house) might be able to look after the oven comfortably, and even occasionally prepare dishes of her own. Catherine, though no cordon bleu — she was supposed to have given most of her attention to the washing, in her former master's household — was not without culinary talents.
Peter the Great, 1897 - Kazimierz Waliszewski
The kitchen, finished with tiles and the vestibule decorated with elaborate carving on the first floor, the architectural ornamentation of the Green Study on the second floor, the tiled stoves, and the paintings on the ceilings have been well preserved, perhaps due to the fact that another Summer Palace built later for Elizabeth I became the official summer royal residence, and Peter's Palace was abandonded, which turned out quite fortunate for history as it saved the building from renovations and remodelling, and now it is one of the few early Saint Petersburg buildings to have kept most of its original detail, and to give the aura of presence of Peter himself.
Peter was very fond of this palace and lived here regularly with his family from March through late Autumn.
The Palace has on display genuine articles of Peter the Great’s clothing and turner’s lathes of Petrine times.