Konstantinovsky Palace is located in the Petrodvorets district of St. Petersburg in the village of Strelna. The Grand Palace in the southern Gulf of Finland, which was then called “the Konstantinovsky” was built almost the entirely during the eighteenth century. The Palace was intended for Peter the Great as his summer residence and construction was started in 1720. However in 1721 work was suspended as Peter the Great decided to build a residence at Peterhof because of its more favorable location. Architect Michetti took drawings of the palace and left the country. Elizabeth I eventually resumed construction of the palace and invited famous architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. The present building of the Grand Palace eventually became the property of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich. Since then, the palace became known as “Konstantinovsky”. The next owner of the palace was the son of Nicholas I, Konstantin. It was during this time the front of the royal residence was finally completed.
After the 1917 revolution Konstantinovsky Palace fell into disarray. Valuable books, documents, a rich collection of paintings and ceramics, and personal belongings of the royal family were scattered in various museums or even irretrievably lost. It was at this time the Palace hosted a school, a sanatorium, and finally a training center for the Navy.
During the World War II Konstantinovsky Palace was equipped with a German observation post. As a result of massive shelling and a fire the building was destroyed down to a stone skeleton. Eventually Russia took back the Palace from the Germans but the damage was already done.
The building gradually began to decline due to lack of interest in preservation. In 1990, the Palace and park complex were placed under the protection of UNESCO. Only 11 years later by declaration of then president of Russia Vladimir Putin, Konstantin Palace and Park were assigned to the presidential administration. For the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg Konstantinovsky Palace was restored and received a new status – the state complex “The Palace of Congresses.” It is now considered the Presidential Residence in St. Petersburg and has had comparisons made with the White House in America.
The renovated Konstantinovsky Palace hosted more than fifty heads of state during St. Petersburg tercentenary celebrations in 2003, with Berlusconi, Blair and Bush among them. Restoration of Strelna Palace and Park became a symbol of the revival of a great Russia and its national cultural heritage.
Today in the newly refurbished state rooms of the Konstantinovsky Palace regularly hosts meetings at the highest political level, scientific and political forums, corporate parties, banquets, cocktail parties, receptions, balls and fashion shows.
A wide range of excursions are offered to visitors. In the palace itself you can see the Blue, Marble and “Belvedere” halls, the various presidential suites, and you will be told about the events of the summits held there. In addition there are the following excursions (some of them are held only during the summer season):
- Peter the Great’s revitalized ideas
- The present and the past centuries
- The collection of the Konstantinovsky Palace. Alisher Usmanov’s Gift
- Russian Versailles
- The Consulate Village
- Visiting a wine cellar (including wine sampling)
- Riding the electric cars used by the world presidents during the G8 summit