The eastern section of the park, the most extensive of all, is the Monplaisir area. It comprises six gardens: those of the Palace of Monplaisir, of the Menagerie, of the Orangery, and of the Pyramid Fountain; the Parterre Garden before the Dragon Cascade, and the Chinese Garden; it also includes the Maze, and three amusement areas with trick fountains. The dominant role in the layout of the eastern section belongs to the fountains: each of them serves as the focal point and main decoration of a definite area.
All the gardens and fountain enclosures are compositionally linked with the Monplaisir Avenue which forms the main axis of this section of the park. The Palace of Monplaisir and the Dragon Cascade, the principal architectural features of the eastern section, close the vista at either end of the Avenue. In front of the Palace's southern façade lies a square garden, enclosed on three sides by residential and service buildings, with five fountains, a flower parterre, and two trick fountains known as the Settees. Close by, to the east of the Avenue, is the Menagerie Garden, with the revolving Sun Fountain, a bronze pillar surmounted by a gilt triple disc, in the centre of the rectangular Menagerie Pool. The garden is adorned with symmetrically arranged marble sculptures, and at its boundaries stand two wooden pavilions, the Aviaries. In the groves along the Monplaisir Avenue are the Umbrella and Fir-tree trick fountains, and also the Oak, Tulip, and Benches group. Water jokes of this kind were highly popular in the eighteenth century. The forms and decoration of the trick fountains were calculated to enhance the effect of the unexpected appearance of the jets of water.
The oval garden bounded by the curved façade of the Orangery has a fountain adorned with the sculptural group Triton Fighting a Sea Monster.
The area in front of the Dragon Cascade is laid out as a formal garden with sunken parterres of flowers and grass and two fountains; it is connected by a walk with the Pyramid Fountain and by another walk with the Nicholas Gate in the wall which marks the eastern limit of the Lower Park. A broad ramp leads from the garden up to the terrace in front of the Great Palace in the park's central section.
The eastern section of the Lower Park, with its elaborate design of glistening blue pools and sparkling fountains, green trees, smooth lawns, trimmed hedges, and statuary in gilt bronze or white marble, is like a colourful mosaic panel. The rustle of the leaves swaying in the breeze mingles with the soft splash of the numerous fountains to create a harmonious backcloth of sound.
Between 1722 and 1725 the architects Braunstein and Zemtsov and the sculptor Ossner, probably using designs by Michetti, constructed the Grand Orangery, and decorated its roof with a balustrade of vases. Harnigfelt and Borisov laid out a formal garden in front of the new building.
The southern façade of the Orangery, thirty-four metres long and broken by high windows, curves around a pleasant oval garden. In the centre of the garden there is a round pool, with a stone surround and a four-pointed star of tufa, from which rises a bronze sculptural group, depicting a Triton struggling with a seamonster. A jet of water almost eight metres high rises from the open mouth of the monster; its impetuous force enhances the dynamic quality of the sculpture. At the points of the tufa star lie four bronze turtles. With their heads peering out of their shells, they seem to be watching the contest; thin two-metre streams of water shoot from their gaping mouths.
The fountain was conceived and designed to complete the layout of the Orangery area. A pool for it was dug in 1722, but it was only in 1726 that Usov constructed a fountain, and decorated it with a lead group made by Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli. 150 years later the old sculpture was replaced by a galvanoplastic group, created by the Berlin sculptor Barella from drawings by David Jensen; it was set in the pool, with the original lead turtles. During the occupation period from 1941 to 1944 the Orangery with its garden and fountain was completely destroyed. Gurzhy re-created the sculpture of Triton Fighting a Sea Monster and the four turtles in 1956, and so this fountain, typical of the 1730s, began its second life. Two years before the Orangery had been reconstructed from a design of Savkov, prepared on the basis of the original architect's own plans. The vases for the balustrade were reproduced by Gurzhy from drawings of the architect Alexander Alymov.
View of the Parterre Garden and the Roman Fountains from the upper terrace of the Dragon Cascade
View of the Parterre before the Dragon Cascade, with the Roman Fountains