The small town of Gatchina is located 40 kilometers south of St. Petersburg. The most interesting attraction of the city is the Great Gatchina Palace and the surrounding landscape Gatchina Palace Park. However, there are other interesting places in the city, so it is better to plan for a visit to Gatchina all day. 

The Great Gatchina Palace was built in 1766 by architect Rinaldi for the favorite of Empress Catherine II Grigory Orlov. It is built in the style of a severe medieval castle with a large square between two wings of the palace. After Orlov`s death, the palace became imperial. The heir to the throne, Paul I, lived here. He called the square in front of the palace "platz" and constantly held military parades here.  

In 1881, the Gatchina Palace became the only royal residence of Alexander III. Previously, the winter royal residence was the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and for the summer they went to Peterhof or Tsarskoye Selo. Emperor Alexander III and his family lived in Gatchina all year round and only occasionally went to the Livadia Palace in the Crimea in autumn. 

Around the Great Gatchina Palace, on the shores of the White Lake, there is a beautiful landscape Gatchina Palace Park. Here you can see many beautiful pavilions: the Venus Pavilion, the Eagle Pavilion, the Chesmensky Obelisk, the Birch House and the Mask Portal. Many beautiful bridges have been built among ponds and islands. 

Of particular interest is the Priory Palace, built in 1799. The Russian Emperor Paul I ordered to build a summer palace for the Prior of the Order of Malta next to Gatchina Park. Its construction is connected with a short period when Russia became a place of refuge for the Knights of the Order of Malta.  

In 1798, Napoleon`s expeditionary force captured Malta and expelled the knights from there. Paul I had long-standing ties with the Freemasons, and the Knights of Malta appealed to him to accept the dignity of Grand Master of the Order of Malta. After the assassination of Paul I, the knights left Russia, since his son Alexander I did not maintain such close ties with the Freemasons as his father. After that, the Priory Palace was empty. Now it is a museum. Next to the palace is the Priory Park – a favorite walking place of Gatchina residents. In the middle of October 25 Avenue, a huge Obelisk Constable (32 meters, weight 600 tons) is installed between two parks. 

Gatchina has several beautiful cathedrals and churches. In 1851, the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle was built in the center of Gatchina. Tsar Nicholas I took an active part in its construction in memory of his father Paul I. Near the Palace Park is the high Intercession Cathedral, a beautiful example of the classical Russian style.  

In front of the palace in building of the 218th Aviation repair plant there is a Museum of Aviation Engine Construction. You can see there 15 full-size models of aircraft engines and get acquainted with the history of aviation development. In front of the museum there is a model of the first Farman aircraft and a model of the first Dzhevetsky submarine. This submarine was first tested in 1880 in the Silver Lake of Gatchina Park, and the aircraft began operating in 1910 at the first Gatchina Airfield in Russia.

Photo Gallery
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Gatchina Palace and Karpin (Carp) bridge over the Beloye (White) Lake at the Gatchina Palace Park 
Gatchina Palace in the St. Petersburg outside is very similar to the knight`s castle
Arsenal Square-block (right wing) of Gatchina Palace
The corner towers of the Gatchina Palace are made in the medieval style
Monument to Paul I on the parade ground of Gatchina Palace
The throne room of Paul I in the Gatchina Palace was made by architect Rinaldi in 1790
Private Garden of the imperial family at the walls of the Gatchina Palace
An underground passage from the Gatchina Palace to the Silver pond in the Gatchina Park
Photo of the family of Emperor Alexander III, who lived permanently in the Gatchina Palace
All large events were held in the White hall of the Gatchina Palace
The Priory Palace in Gatchina was built by Paul I for the Grand Master of the Order of Malta
The Priory Palace in Gatchina was built in 1799 by architect Nikolai Lvov using the technology of pressing earthen soil
Beloye (White) Lake and the Chesma Obelisk at the Gatchina Palace Park as viewed from the Clock Tower of the Gatchina Palace
Obelisk Constable in Gatchina - height 32 meters, weight 600 tons
Silver trees over the Beloye (White) Lake at the Gatchina Palace Park
Walking paths at the Gatchina Palace Park
The Priory Palace is located in the Priory Park of Gatchina on the shore of the Black Lake
A beautiful bend of the Pike Lake in the Priory Park in Gatchina
The paths of the Priory Park are a favorite walking place of Gatchina residents
Venus Pavilion on Love Island in Gatchina Palace Park
Busts of the ancient Greek gods at the Private Garden at the walls of the Gatchina Palace 
The Chesma Column in the Gatchina Palace Park
Eagle Pavilion in Gatchina Palace Park
Swan Island in the middle of the White Lake in the Gatchina Palace Park
Pavilion Birch House and Portal Mask in Gatchina Palace Park
Intercession Cathedral is the highest cathedral in Gatchina, built in 1914
The Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle in Gatchina was built by Nicholas I in memory of his father Paul I
The Museum of the History of Aviation Engine Construction and Repair in Gatchina is located opposite the Great Gatchina Palace