To the east of the Peterhof Lower Park on the shore of the Gulf of Finland lies the Alexandria Park covering an area of 115 hectars. There are clusters of oak trees, males, limes and other trees dotted about the large open meadows. Small paths wind over the terraces and green lawns and a brook babbles in a gully spanned by a “ruined bridge”. The romantic atmosphere of the park is enhanced by small buildings in Gothic style.
Alexandria was conceived and constructed in the second half of the 19th century as an Imperial summer residence, the private possession of the Romanov family. In August 1825 Emperor Alexander I presented this land to his brother Nicholas, who was crowned Emperor four months later and made a present of it to his wife Alexandra, after whom the estate is named.
Building here began in 1826 with the Cottage, a palace built in the neo-Gothic style characterized by the use of Gothic architectural features without any organic link between function and construction. In 1829 the architect Adam Menelaws completed work on its décor. This compact, three-story building, almost square in ground plan, has a roof with steep gables painted the color of thatch, yet another reminder of its purpose as a country villa. The wrought-iron lattice work of the balconies, the bay windows and terraces, the window grilles, and the molding of the cornices are all done in the English style of Tudor Gothic. The deep loggias of the east and west facades are also in this style. The details of the décor are painted white to contrast with the ochre of the walls. The colored glass in the casements of the arcades on the ground floor is also reminiscent of Gothic. Some very fine flower-beds were laid out around the cottage and the other buildings n the park.
In 1842 the architect Andrei Stakenschneider added a dining room, pantry and marble terrace with a fountain to the cottage, which had become somewhat cramped for the royal family. This upset the strict symmetry of Menelaws’ building, but made it look more homely and attractive.
In 1829-1831 Menelaws built the Farm to the west of the Cottage. This pavilion was intended to impart an air of rural idyll to the park. The Farm was later turned into a palace for Nicholas I’s son, Alexander, when he was still heir to the throne (in 1836), and in 1858, three years after he was crowned Emperor of Russia, Stakenschneider gave the Farm its present dimensions.