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Summer Garden (Letny Sad)

Summer Garden (Letny Sad) Review

One of Peter the Great's passions was inspired by Versailles. When first laid out in 1704, the garden was given the regular, geometric style made famous by Louis XIV's gardener, Andre Le Nôtre, and decorated with statues and sculptures as well as with imported trees and plants. Grottoes, pavilions, ponds, fountains, and intricate walkways were placed throughout, and the grounds are bordered on all sides by rivers and canals. In 1777, floods did so much damage (entirely destroying the system of fountains) that the Imperial family stopped using the garden for entertaining, and the fountains were not restored. When the family decamped for environs farther afield, they left the Summer Garden for use by the upper classes. Today it's a popular park accessible to everyone. The graceful wrought-iron fence that marks the entrance to the garden was designed in 1779 by Yuri Felten; it's supported by pink granite pillars decorated with vases and urns.

Just inside this southeastern corner is Peter's original Summer Palace, Letny Dvorets. Designed by Domenico Trezzini and completed in 1714, the two-story building is quite simple, as most of Peter's dwellings were. The walls are of brick covered in stucco and painted primrose yellow. Open since 1934 as a museum, it has survived without major alteration. Currently the palace is closed for a long-needed restoration that is expected to last for several years. Two other attractive buildings nearby are the Coffee House (Kofeinyi Domik), built by Carlo Rossi in 1826, and the Tea House (Tchainyi Domik), built by L.I. Charlemagne in 1827. Neither of them serves the beverage they are named for: they're both used for expositions these days. As you walk through the park, take a look at some of its more than 80 statues. Peace and Abundance, sculpted in 1722 by Pietro Baratta, an allegorical depiction of Russia's victory in the war with Sweden, is one of the two original statues left in the garden after a recent renovation; the others are in Mikhailovsky Palace. The other original statue, just off the main alley, is of Ivan Krylov, a writer known as "Russia's La Fontaine." Peter Klodt, who also did the Anichkov Bridge horse statues, designed this sculpture, which was unveiled in 1855. Scenes from Krylov's fables, including his version of "The Fox and the Grapes," appear on the pedestal.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 2 nab. Kutozova, City Center, St. Petersburg, 191041
  • Cost: free
  • Hours: May 1–Sept. 30, Wed.–Mon. 10–10; Oct. 1–Mar. 31, Wed.–Mon. 10–7; closed last Mon. of month
  • Metro: Chernyshevskaya or Nevsky Prospekt.
  • Location: City Center
Updated: 12-09-2013

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