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Guided Tours

An Overview Tour of the Gatchina Palace
Duration 1 hour 50 min.

Built in the 18th century for count Gregory Orlov, Catherine II’s favourite, the Palace was to serve as a hunting and residential estate. Since then and up to 1917 it remained the property of the imperial family. Throughout this time, state and private rooms were designed and decorated for the use of several generations of Russian tsars and their family members.

The Palace suffered severe damage during World War II and the decades that followed, when it housed a variety of unrelated institutions. The restoration is still in progress. The tour will take you to the restored state apartments dating to Pauls time, the imperial private chapel, and the unique collection of ancient arms. You will be introduced to the history of the Palace, its architects and owners and the formal and everyday life of the tsars court. The tour concludes with a visit to a mysterious underground passage “inhabited” by the nymph Echo.

An Overview Tour of the Palace Park
The tour runs in summer, May through September, and lasts 1.5 hours.

Along with the construction of the Palace for count Grigory Orlov, Russias first landscape park was laid out on the premises in the 18th century. Improvements in the park continued into the following centuries, when Gatchina was in the property of the imperial family.

At that time some parts of the park were designed in a formal style and a range of unique park structures came into existence. During the tour you will learn about the subtleties of park designing, celebrations held in the former and present times and extraordinary submarine tests conducted in the Silver Lake. The tour will take you to the most picturesque parts of the Palace Park – the Private Garden of the imperial family, the unique Water Maze, and the Island of Love. We invite you to appreciate a panoramic view of the White Lake, admire bridges with open-work railings and white-snow sculptures, the Venus Pavilion that has survived from the 18th century and the Birch House, a surprise-house that has been restored to its original appearance.

An Overview Tour of the Priory Palace
Duration 1.5 hours.

The Priory Palace represents a unique architectural and historic monument from the late 18th century. It is unique in many ways ranging from its medieval look, its name unusual for Russia, building techniques employed, to the personality of its architect, Nikolay Lvov, referred to by contemporaries as the Russian Leonardo, and to its location the earthwork palace lies in the lowland flanked by two lakes. Also unique is the event in its history, when in 1799 it was presented to the Order of Malta.
Thus, the palace witnessed an interesting chapter in Russian history, when an Orthodox Russian emperor Paul I assumed a leading position in the ancient catholic Order of Malta. You will see the medieval-like palace with its boarded floors, pointed Gothic windows and French ceiling-to-floor windows, wooden coffered ceilings, the pattern of which lends itself to numerous interpretations. The tour will introduce you to the history of the Order of Malta, its emergence in Russia and the people involved in this historic event, the earthwork building technique and versatile interests of the Palaces architect. The tour is intended for those interested in history, religious history and spiritual orders of knights.

An Audience with Paul I

The two-hour long program will immerse you in the era of the 18th century. In the company of a lady-in-waiting or a maid of honor you will
˗ make a tour of the magnificent palace rooms,
˗ hear a performance by court musicians,
˗ learn about the manners in the enlightened 18th century and the private life of the imperial family,
˗ attend an audience with Emperor Paul I in the stately White Room,
˗ go down to the basement of the Gatchina Palace and undergo the test imposed by the Emperor,
˗ and only those who did not embarrass themselves and successfully passed the test with the soldiers favorite drink in the Gatchina army will have a chance to go through the mysterious candle-lit underground tunnel.