Peter the Great decided to build a Constantine Palace in Strelna, 20 kilometers outside of St.Petersburg in 1711. Peter I wanted it to be the «Russian Versailles». Peter personally chose the place for the construction of the palace and park. The project of the country residence was prepared by the Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli (the father of the architect Rastrelli, who later built many palaces in St. Petersburg) and the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Leblon (the author of the master plan of St. Petersburg in 1717).
The construction of the palace began in 1720. The commission to build the grand palace passed to another architect – Niccolo Michetti. But soon it became evident that the place was ill-adapted for creation of fountains because of small height difference. All necessary hydraulic facilities required a lot of money. And a little to the west, in Peterhof, the elevation difference made it possible to easily build a palace complex with splendid fountain cascades.
An hydraulic engineer Christopher Munnich was able to persuade Peter I to move his residence to Peterhof. And it was just for this reason all construction works were stopped already in 1730. And Peterhof Palace was built 10 kilometers to the west.
However, in the middle of the 18 century it was decided to finish the palace of Peter the Great and give it into possession of Grand Dukes. The palace was successively owned by three Grand Duke including Constantine Pavlovich, a son of Emperor Paul I. And since that time it was known as Constantine Palace.
Constantine Palace was severely damaged during the WWII. It stood damaged for a long time. And only in 2000 it was decided to make it the «Palace of Congresses» for international summits or meetings of President of Russia.
The palace and park are opened for public, but since they are covered by a special regime of protection, you can visit them only with a guided tour within the strictly allotted time. There you can see the main palace interiors, as well as the famous collection of Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya. Also, it will be very interesting to have a tour of the park «Russian Versailles» and the fort «Alexander» in the Gulf of Finland.