Grigory Orlov began the creation of the Gatchina Palace Park simultaneously with the construction of the Great Gatchina Palace. After Orlov , Gatchina was owned by Pavel I. Thanks to him, the Palace Park has become one of the most beautiful landscape parks in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. Pavilions and bridges have been built around the big White Lake, as well as walking alleys.
In the most famous summer palaces of St. Petersburg: the Peterhof Palace and the Catherine Palace, large spaces are occupied by regular parks. Gatchina Park is almost completely landscape. Only a small Dutch garden, located on the right side of the Gatchina Palace, has a regular layout.
A tiny Private Garden of a regular type is laid out at the foot of the Gatchina Palace. It was intended only for the walks of the emperor and his family. There are several walking paths under canopies entwined with wild grapes, as well as sculptural compositions.
The main spaces of the park on the territory of 143 hectares are created in the natural landscape around the White Lake, Kaprin Pond and Silver Lake. Such an extensive water system made it possible to create beautiful landscapes with bridges, channels and small islands.
An underground passage leads to the Silver Pond from the Great Gatchina Palace. It was built by Grigory Orlov. Through this passage, his guests could leave the palace unnoticed. Now this underground passage is called the "Echo Grotto", since every word quietly spoken here is repeatedly echoed.
Various pavilions and obelisks have been built in Gatchina Park. The most famous of them are:
• Venus Pavilion. The idea of its construction came to Pavel when he visited European palaces during his trip in the 1780s. By his order, a canal was dug on the White Lake and a small Island of Love was made. The Venus Pavilion was built there in 1791. In the Venus Pavilion, Pavel and his family rested on the shore of the lake.
• Birch house and portal Mask. The pavilion was built in the 1780s on the initiative of Maria Feodorovna, the wife of the Prince Paul I. It is made as a village house, lined with birch logs. Inside this "house" is a luxurious royal boudoir, where the company could relax while walking in the park. The couple saw such "playful" pavilions in European royal palaces. The entrance to the birch house is the portal "Mask", made of stone, in the form of a classical antique temple.
• Eagle Pavilion. It is a round rotunda temple in the form of an ancient temple. The height of the pavilion is 9.5 meters. The Eagle Pavilion was built in the far part of the White Lake in 1792, by order of Paul I. The pavilion was also called the "Temple". Niches for antique statues are made in the wall of the pavilion.
• Chesma Obelisk. One of the very first monuments in Gatchina Park, erected in 1770 by architect Antonio Rinaldi. At that time Gatchina was owned by Ekaterina favorite Grigory Orlov. The obelisk was erected in honor of the victory of the Russian fleet over the Turkish fleet in the Battle of Chesma. The Russian fleet was commanded by Alexey Orlov, Grigory`s brother.
To the southeast of Gatchina Palace Park is the Priory Palace and Priory Park. It was built in 1799 by order of Emperor Paul I for Priors (Masters) of the Order of Malta. Paul I became the grand master of this order in 1798 and decided to build a summer palace in Gatchina for the highest leadership of the order. After the assassination of Paul I, the Maltese knights left Russia and the palace was empty.
The Priory Palace and the park are located to the southeast of the Palace Park on the opposite side of October 25 Avenue. On the avenue there is a huge Obelisk Constable (height 32 meters), which is one of the symbols of Gatchina. The Priory Palace is located 1 kilometer from the Gatchina Palace. It makes sense to go there if you have enough time for walking. There is a small landscape Priory Park near the Palace. Tourists rarely enter it, but locals like to walk here.