Constantine Palace (Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna near St. Petersburg)
The Constantine Palace (Konstantin or Konstantinovsky Palace) in Strelna near St. Petersburg is a masterpiece of Russian architecture of the 18th century.
In 1716, during Peter the Great’s trip abroad, the already famous architect Jean-Baptiste Leblond was introduced to the Russian tsar. In the autumn of the same year the architect arrived in St. Petersburg and started working on the Strelna palace project. Peter wanted the new palace to emphasize Russia's new status as a maritime power. In March 1717 the tsar approved the project submitted by Leblond.
In the same period Leblond managed construction of the palace in Peterhof, which was being built "with great hurry." At the beginning of 1719 Leblond died, and his initial draft of the Strelna palace project was now passed on to two Italian architects, first to Citriani, and then to Niccolo Michetti. Under the supervision of the latter, the foundation of the Strelna palace was laid in June of 1720.
Construction of the building was carried out briskly, but there was not enough money, since large sums were spent on the construction of the Peterhof residence, where a trial run of the Grand Cascade fountains was done in August of 1721. Peter the Great clearly lost interest in the idea of ??creating the same "paradise" in Strelna as in Peterhof, and in early 1722 the unfinished palace was presented as a gift to Anna Petrovna, the future Empress and daughter of Peter.
Under the pretext of going to purchase sculptural decorations for the palace, Michetti took all the drawings and left for Italy to never come back. A 35 year old Mikhail Zemtsov was now appointed to manage construction of all royal palaces.
The construction work first slowed down after the death of Peter the Great in 1725 and later came to a complete halt following the marriage of Anna Petrovna. The palace stood unfinished for 20 years. Only in 1747 did the work resume: Bartolomeo Rastrelli finished all the apartments, built a large staircase, and rebuilt many premises. Finishing work lasted for almost 10 years, but Empress Elizabeth ignored the new palace: its huge dry basements were used as wine cellars.
In 1797 Emperor Paul I presented the Strelna Palace to his son, grand duke Constantine. This period marks the revival of the grand residence under the direction of the architect Andrey Voronikhin. The renovation was completed in 1803.
On the night of December 29, 1803 a huge fire destroyed the entire decoration of the palace. Only a small number of paintings and furniture were saved.
On January 1, 1804 the Emperor Alexander I (elder brother of Constantine) signed the decree for the restoration of the palace. The project was given to the architect Luigi Rusca, who had just finished restoration of the Tauride Palace. The interior painters included D. Ferrari and F. Shcherbakov. The work was completed in a very short time and in July 1804 Constantine Pavlovich again settled in in the palace.
However, the second and current name of the Strelna Palace - Constantine Palace - was not on behalf of the Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich. He died in 1831, and the palace came into the possession of another Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich, son of Emperor Nicholas I.
In the spring of 1844 a new stage of restoration work began in the Grand Palace of Strelna. A specially appointed commission composed of architects X. Meyer, A. Shtakenschneider and Briullov inspected the palace and presented its proposals.
After completion of the restoration work the palace became a summer residence of Grand Duke Constantien Nikolaevich and it was at that time that the palace acquired the name of Constantine.