Situated just 30 kilometers south of St. Petersburg, the Imperial Estate of Pavlovsk used to be the residence of Emperor Paul I, who was the son of Catherine the Great. At the top of a hill, which is at the heart of the estate, lies the magnificent palace, and this is surrounded by an expansive landscaped park, created so that Emperor Paul I could have an idyllic oasis of solitude.
The Pavlovsk Palace
While the Pavlovsk Palace may not look as grand and opulent as some of its neighbors, it has a classical elegance and harmonious balance to it that makes it quite unique. Construction of the palace began in 1782, and the finishing touches were applied in 1825, although it has undergone renovations since then. The interior rooms of the palace are themed, and include the Grecian Hall, the Italian Hall, the Egyptian Vestibule and the Hall of Peace, each decorated accordingly. Pavlovsk’s Picture Gallery can be found in the palace’s southern wing, and will be of particular interest to art enthusiasts, as it contains a number of notable paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
One of the largest landscaped gardens in the world, Pavlovsk Park takes full advantage of the rolling curves of the river valley, creating winding streams, gentle slopes and thoughtfully placed beds of flowers. The park covers an area measuring over 600 hectares, which would take at least a day to explore, but since much of it is woodland, visitors usually head straight to the highlights of the park. These are mostly found along the banks of the Slavyanka, such as the Temple of Friendship, which is a neoclassical rotunda that features many sculptures of Catherine the Great, the Vokzhalniye Ponds, which are always popular in the summer for boating, and Pavel’s Mausoleum. At the very center of Pavlovsk Park lies the Rose Pavilion, which is an exquisite example of wooden architecture from the 19th century, and was said to be one of Empress Maria Fyodorovna’s favorite places. Since the park was one of the stops on the first railway built in Russia, it has been a popular destination for quite some time now, especially during the summer months.
When visiting the Imperial Estate of Pavlovsk, there are a few other attractions that are worth making time for. The Private Garden of Empress Maria Fyodorovna is situated right beside Pavlovsk Palace, and was intended to be exclusively used by the owners of the palace, its formal structure contrasting with the lush beauty that surrounds it. The Museum of Costumes can also be found in Pavlovsk, and is home to a collection of ceremonial costumes that were worn by Imperial families throughout the generations, as well as a few historic military and civilian items.
The Imperial Estate of Pavlovsk covers around 1500 acres, making it one of the largest Imperial Estates in the country. From Moscow, Pavlovsk is extremely easy to access, and, filled with history, culture and exquisite beauty, always makes for a special day out.