THE HERMITAGE PALACE
In the depth of the avenue running slant-wise from the Great Parterre to the north-west, on the seashore, there stands a slender two-storey edifice - the first "Hermitage" built in Russia. Over its entrance there is a balcony on carved corbels with a metal grille of elaborate pattern. The structure owes its unusual sense of light-ness to the huge glazed doors, with light pouring freely through them. The building rests on a stylobate encircled with a deep moat. Only a light footbridge connects it with the outer world.
The Hermitage, which means "a secluded place" in French, was intended for a narrow circle of persons, the owner's personal friends. The idea of its construction came to Peter the Great during his travel around European countries where such pavilions were then fashionable. The construction of the Hermitage was commissioned to the architect Johann Braunstein and work began in 1721 to be completed, however, only after the Emperor's death, in the summer of 1725. Catherine I visited the pavilion on 25 July that same year. All in this building - the lift mechanisms, the two carved oak balconies and the dining-table for fourteen persons - was done according to her consort's project.
In the reign of Empress Anna Ioannovna the Hermitage was consigned to oblivion. And it was only Elizabeth Petrovna, the daughter of the founder of Peterhof, who remembered about her father's creation. During her reign Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli led work on the renovation of the lift mechanisms, new figures were carved for the pediments and in 1757-59 the walls were decorated with painting. Catherine the Great also often visited the Hermitage and enjoyed the time spent there. In 1766, in the narrow circle of the Empress's associates, the writer Denis Fonvizin read his satirical comedy The Brigadier.
Devastated during the Second World War, the Hermitage was restored and in 1952 wel-comed its first visitors again. Today, the second stage of restoration, which will include the reconstruction of the lost mechanical amuse-ments in the pavilion, is planned.
The Hermitage palace
The Hermitage Palace.
Unknown Russian artist.
"The Battle of Poltava."
First half of the 18th century.