T is for Travel to Russia
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderely again." Last night I
dreamt I went to Oranienbaum again. Thank you Daphne Du Maurier.
Oranienbaum which means 'orange tree' in German is the estate of Alexander Menshikov, Peter the Great's companion in arms. It was built in the early 18th century near St. Petersburg, Russia. From the early 1700's to 1760's when all the buildings were completed, it saw many architectural changes and additions. There were four major architects over the 18th century: Fontana, Schadel, Rastrelli and Rinaldi, Italian and German. But artisans were commissioned from all over Europe to work there and add to the art collections and work on the interior and exterior of the buildings.
I saw Oranienbaum in 1989 with my husband while on a cruise of the Baltic. Oraniebaum had just recently been available for visitors as it was under repair and still is, despite Vladimir Putin's billion dollar refurbishment of St. Petersburg for St. Petersburg's 300-year anniversary in 2003.
Although there are many beautiful places in the area, my favorite was the Chinese Palace built from 1762-1768 as a little weekend dacha for Catherine the Great. In one room are resplendent silk wall panels depicting landscapes of birds and woods, panels inlaid with ivory, many beautiful examples of decorative arts are everywhere throughout the building. There were sculptures outside as well. The building is only one floor, but designed to look like two. Peter the Great wanted Russia to look more like Europe and he was the one who began the tremendous building project that became St. Petersburg.
One building, called a viewing pavilion, overlooked the Oranienbaum Coasting Hill, of which there exist only drawings today. Coasting down sledding hills was a popular entertainment in the 18th century, sleds in the winter and special cars in the summer as the nobility watched from the Pavilion.
Can you just imagine a mystery set in the 18th century, where the main character uncovers an accident/murder which takes place on the sledding hill?
My photos do not do it justice but you can see photographs on:
And Oranienbaum has a Facebook page as well!
What is a magical place in your memory?