Alexander Menshikov was the closest associate of the tsar Peter I. That’s why he could afford to build the palaces superior to those of the tsar himself. So there appeared the Menshikov Palace on Vasilyevsky island and the Grand Menshikov Palace at Oranienbaum.
Both Menshikov palaces are the earliest ceremonial residences of St. Petersburg, and before the palaces at Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo they were the most gorgeous palaces in the northern capital.
The Grand Menshikov Palace was built in Oranienbaum during 1711-1721. At the side of the palace overlooking the Neva River there was planted a large regular park and built the Picture House. The palace itself was built on the high terrace and is a bright example of baroque architecture in the time of Peter the Great.
The Grand Menshikov Palace is a two-floor building approached from below by cascade stairways. There were pavilions connected by the covered passages on both sides of the central building of the palace. The front side of the Menshikov Palace is 210 meters long.
There was a crown in the center of the roof of the Grand Menshikov Palace. All contemporaries noted the luxury of the estates of the prince Menshikov. About that time in Peterhof there were built some small ceremonial houses, and in St. Petersburg Peter I had but a small Summer Palace on the Fontanka at the Summer Garden.
Several decades later at the park of Oranienbaum there appeared several palace and park complexes: Sobtsvennaya Dacha of Catherine II, and the Peterstadt "toy" fortress with the small Palace of Peter III.