The Mikhailovsky Garden is located to the south of the Fields of Mars, with a splendid memorial church (Church on the Spilled Blood) erected on the spot where Alexander II was assasinated. On the south side of this park is the State Russian Museum (former Michael Palace), one of the finest edifices in the city, in Italian style, devoted to Russian art. On the eastern side of the park is a grand palace, also known as Old Michael Palace or Engineers’ Castle.
The garden is a unique combination of two different styles of the landscape art: of the regular or French and the landscape or English.
Carlo Rossi created an exemplary English garden. He used all the main planning features of the landscape style borrowed from the English landscape architecture of the 1715-1760. In front of the garden façade of the Mikhailovsky Palace there was a spacious meadow of an uneven oval form, framed with an alley and included into the regular plan net.
Another typical feature of the English garden is the use of ponds with uneven water-edges. That is why the architect turned the former pools of geometrical forms into picturesque ponds of various sizes with «natural» meander banks. He also demolished the central small rectangular ponds. One more traditional element of a landscape park was introduced — a pavilion with a quay on the bank of the Moika River. This pavilion, built where the basement of the first wooden Palace of Catherine I once was, was intended for romantic encounters of the summer evenings, for tea-ceremonies or card plays.
On the first day of spring in 1881, the Russian emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded at the nearby Catherine Canal. Later a chapel and then a church was built at the site of his assassination – the church came to be known as the Church of the Savior on the Blood. The church was separated from the Mikhailovsky Garden, and for that purpose a special grille was built – and this is how the Mikhailovsky Garden came to acquire one of the most beautiful grilles the city.
The Garden was opened to the public in 1898. But by the time the territory shrank somewhat, as part of it was ceded to the building of the ethnographic museum. At the gate there was a sign prohibiting entry to soldiers, and people walking dogs.
After the revolution, the garden was completely abandoned. In 1924 the Soviet government decided to take care of the park. Ponds were cleaned, new trees planted, and the fence repaired.
During the siege of World War II, many sculptures were buried in the Mikhailovsky garden, including the equestrian statue of Alexander III.
In 1999, the territory was handed over to the Russian Museum, and at the beginning of the 21 century the garden was reconstructed again.
Today the garden is magnificent, and is ideal for exploring the city. Unfortunately, of the old houses almost nothing survived. There is only the Russian Pavilion, which served as the quay for small boats of the imperial family.