This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Intimately tucked into the brush of pristine gardens, Marly Palace is a charming baroque mansion that was commissioned by Peter the Great. Located in Peterhof, Saint Petersberg, Russia, the majestic home rests on the western edge of the imperial estate that houses the Grand Palace of Peter the Great.
Peter’s inspiration for this elegant two-story residence was the royal hunting lodge at Marly Le Roi that belonged to French king Louis XIV. Louis XIV had commissioned that residence as a private, peaceful alternative to Versailles. Peter visited Marly Le Roi during his visit to France in 1717, and, when creating his “Russian Versailles” at Peterhof, he enjoyed the idea of having his own personal sanctuary built in the grounds.
The construction of the Marly Palace began in 1720 and was designed by Johann Braunstein. The project was referred to in initial documents as the “Minor Seaside Palace”. By 1722, the upper story was built and within the year decorative work on the interiors was nearly completed.
The palace was intended for “celebrated persons”, but from the middle of the eighteenth century it quickly became a repository for objects associated with Peter the Great. Items stored there included his wardrobe, presents sent to him, paintings, furniture and other everyday objects. In essence it became somewhat of a “trophy room”. Today, some of these items are now on display in the home for touring visitors to view.
After nearly two centuries, Marly did not need to undergo any major alterations until cracks appeared in the walls in the nineteenth century. After careful removal of the interior decoration, the building was dismantled down to its foundation which was then reinforced prior to rebuilding the structure.
After nearly complete destruction during the Second World War, the palace was reconstructed by the architects, E.V. Kazanskaya and A.E. Gessen. Archival materials and prewar photographs were utilized to help recreate the appearance and the interior of the palace with extreme accuracy. It later re-opened to visitors, in 1982 and continues to offer tours of the grand mansion.
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