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STRELNA

 

 

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 were suspended.

  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 the Revolution.
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.