From Academic Kids

Gatchina is the city of 84900 inhabitants in the Leningrad oblast of the Russian Federation, 45 km south of St Petersburg by the road leading to Pskov.

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Dressing-Room for Count Orlov, 1770s, seen in a 19th-century watercolor: much of the interior was burned by Nazis

Early history

It was first documented in 1499 as Khotchino, a village in possession of Novgorod the Great. In the 17th century it passed to Livonia, then to Sweden, was returned to Russia in 1721 and given by Peter the Great to his sister Natalia. Catherine the Great granted it in 1765 to her favourite Count Orlov who built there a sombre castle with 600 rooms ( and laid out, for the first time in Russia, an extensive English landscape park. At the entrance to the park from the Gatchina road was erected a triumphal arch to a design by the architect of Gatchina, Antonio Rinaldi (1771, built 1777-82), forming a monumental entrance, the gift of Catherine to Orlov for his efforts during a recent outbreak of plague at Moscow.

The Rococo interiors were designed by Rinaldi and Vincenzo Brenna and executed by Italian stuccoworkers and Russian craftsmen, with parquetry floors, painted ceilings, and distinctly italian furniture (illustration, right).

Imperial residence

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Chesma Gallery for Grand-Duke Paul, in the Neoclassical style of the 1790s

The Empress took such a great liking of the manor that at Orlov's death in 1783 she bought it from his heirs and presented it to her son, the future Emperor Paul. During the 1790s, Paul redecorated some palacial interiors in the sumptuous Neoclassical style (illustration, left) and graced the park with numerous bridges, gates, and pavilions. A remarkable monument of Paul's reign is a small Priory Palace ( on the shore of the Black Lake. Constructed for the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John, it was presented to the Order by a decree of Paul I of Russia dated 23 August 1799.

After Paul's death the grand palace stood deserted until Alexander III of Russia made it his chief residence. Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar, spent his youth there. During World War II the palace was destroyed by the retreating Germans, restoration works being still under way.

See also

Pavlovsk, Oranienbaum, Strelna, Peterhof, and Tsarskoe Selo - other imperial residences.

External links



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