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THE MARLY PALACE

The Marly Palace is the main structure in the Lower Park. Although not large, it plays an important role in the overall composition of the park. Three main avenues diverge from the palace like rays cutting the park from west to east: the central Marly Avenue, the northern Maliebaan Walk and the southern Birch Alley. The radiating avenues lead not only to the structures located there - the Hermitage Palace or Pavilion, the Eve Fountain and the Lion Cascade, but, crossing the Sea Canal, compositionally link this part of the park with the Adam Fountain and the ensemble of Monplaisir on the one side and the Chessboard Hill Cascade on the other. At the same time the Marly Palace is the focal centre of a relatively autonomous architectural complex including a pond, two gardens (the Venus and Parterre Gardens), a cascade and fountains on the parterre in front of the edifice.

The silhouette of Marly is visible from a large distance. Its relatively modest, but exquisite facade, with a high roof and the tracery of balcony grilles, is reflected, like a fairy-tale vision, in the calm waters.

Construction work began in this section of the park much later than in the central and Monplaisir areas. It started with the building of two ponds, the rectangular Marly Pond and a semicircular one. The excavated soil was employed to raise a huge rampart along the gulf, which could serve both as a dam and as a barrier against northern winds. The semicircular pond with three radial brick partitions was divided into four sectors, hence its later name, the Sectorial Ponds. The artificial ponds, in addition to aesthetic purposes, had purely economical functions - to rear crucians and other kinds of carp and pikeperch. Begun in 1720, the work was completed in 1722.

The area between the northern bank of the Marly Pond and the earth rampart was used to lay out the Venus Garden where fruit trees, berry shrubs and flowers were planted. In the niches of the breast-walls cherry-trees were grown and in the centre of the garden stood a statue of the goddess of love. Another garden was laid out on the opposite bank of the pond. Here in 1721, on the slope of a hill, the construction of a cascade was started and two parterre fountains were installed. Later, four cloche fountains were added to them.

The construction of the Marly Palace began in 1720, when the work of excavating soil from the large pond was nearing completion. The project of the "Minor Seaside Palace", as it was mentioned in initial documents, was designed by Johann Braunstein. According to the initial concept, the building was to have one storey. However, in 1721, when the building was already provided with a roof, Peter the Great ordered that another storey be added. By 1722 the upper storey was built and within the next year decorative work in the interiors was mainly completed.

The new palace was named Marly after Marly-le-Roi, the French royal residence near Paris, which Peter the Great had seen during his visit to France in 1717.

The palace was intended for "celebrated persons". But already from the middle of the eighteenth century it was turned into a repository of objects associated with Peter the Great. It was used to keep his wardrobe, presents made to him, everyday objects, paintings, furniture, etc.

For nearly two centuries Marly did not undergo any major alterations. But in the nineteenth century dangerous cracks appeared on its walls. On the suggestion of the architect Alexander Semionov, after careful measurements and removal of the interior decoration, the building was dismantled down to its foundations and then reassembled, after the foundations had been reinforced, from similar materials. Then the decor was restored in keeping with its former design. Devastated during the Second World War, the palace was reconstructed to the plans of Yevgeniya Kazanskaya and Alexander Gessen. It has been re-opened for visitors in 1982.




The Marly Palace.


Axonometrc projection
of the Marly Palace.



View of the Marly Palace
from the Golden
Hill Cascade.

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Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)

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