Strelna is a historic settlement situated about halfway
between Saint-Petersburg and
Peterhof, Russia, and overlooking the shore of the Gulf of
Finland. Administratively, it is a municipal settlement
under jurisdiction of Petrodvortsovy District of Saint-Petersburg. It has a population of 12,751.
Formerly a Swedish chancellor's estate, Strelna was chosen
by Peter the Great as a place for his future summer
residence in 1714. Jean Baptiste Le Blond, famous for his
work with André Le Nôtre at Versailles, was commissioned to
prepare designs for the would-be palace and park. Le Blond
envisaged the palace as a Chateau d'Eau, situated on a round
island. The gardens were laid out to Le Blond's design, but
the master's death prevented him from completing a more
elaborate project for the palace.
In 1718, a temporary wooden palace was constructed in
Strelna. It had been used by the Russian royalty as a sort
of hunting lodge, and has been faithfully preserved to this
day. After Le Blond's death, the commission to build the
grand palace passed to Nicholo Michetti, a disciple of the
great Carlo Fontana. A cornerstone was laid in June 1720,
but next year it became apparent that the place was
ill-adapted for installation of fountains, so Peter decided
to concentrate his attention on the nearby Peterhof.
Disappointed Michetti left Russia, and all works in Strelna
On ascending the throne in 1741, Peter's daughter Elizabeth
intended to complete her father's project. Her favourite
architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli was asked to expand and
aggrandize Michetti's design. But Rastrelli's attention was
soon diverted to other palaces, in Peterhof and Tsarskoye
Selo, so the Strelna palace stood unfinished until the end
of the century.
In 1797, Strelna was granted to Grand Duke Constantine
Pavlovich (second son of Paul I) and his wife Grand Duchess
Anna Feodorovna (aunt of Queen Victoria). Despite a great
fire in 1803, the Constantine Palace was completed by 1807.
Andrei Voronikhin and Luigi Rusca were held responsible for
architecture of its upper storeys. After Constantine's death,
the palace passed to his nephew, and the Konstantinovichi
branch of the Romanov dynasty retained its ownership until
In preparation for the celebration of the 300th anniversary
of the founding Saint-Petersburg,
the Russian government decided to restore the palace and its
grounds as a state conference center and presidential
residence. The renovated Constantine Palace hosted more than
fifty heads of state during Saint-Petersburg
tercentenary celebrations in 2003. Three years later, in
July 2006 (July 15-17), it hosted the 32nd G8 summit. During
these summits, the world leaders were accommodated in
eighteen luxurious cottages by the sea-side.