St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 at the place where the Neva falls into the Baltic Sea. It was founded during the period of the most active military actions of the Northern War with Sweden, waged by Russia for the outlet to the Baltic Sea.
For the first seven years on the place of the future capital of the Russian Empire there were built only wooden izbas (log cabins). The construction of stone buildings became possible only in 1710, when the Russian troops captured Vyborg, thereby securing St. Petersburg from enemy attacks.
In those years the Prince Menshikov was the closest retainer of Peter the Great, and during the Northern War he also proved to be a good military leader. And in consideration of all his merits, Peter I gave Menshikov the whole Vasilievsky Island, where the latter began an intensive building activity. So, in St. Petersburg there appeared the Menshikov Palace – one of the oldest surviving stone buildings of the city.
Today the Menshikov Palace doesn’t seem as impressive as the magnificent imperial residences of St. Petersburg, such as the Catherine Palace or Peterhof Palace. However, its historic value isn’t the least for that as in the course of several decades the Menshikov Palace was the most luxurious mansion in the northern capital, where the tsar Peter I held all receptions, dinners and even his own wedding.
The palace and its garden occupied a huge space on Vasilievsky Island from the Bolshaya (Big) Neva to the Malaya (Small) Neva. If you take it into account that by 1714, when the Menshikov Palace was finished, it was surrounded by undrained swamps, and Peter I had a small two-floor Summer Palace in the Summer Garden only just finished, such display of luxury wasn’t quite justified.
Thirteen years later, on May, 12, 1727 the tsar gave Alexander Menshikov the rank of generalissimo (only Suvorov and Stalin had this rank after him), and in several months accused him embezzlement of the treasury and exiled to Berezov. The Menshikov Palace was confiscated and given to the Cadet Corps. In the Soviet time the Menshikov Palace was returned the rank of the museum, and there were restored the significant part of historic interiors.
Of the greatest interest are the Nut Room, the Barbara`s Chamber, the Study from the Anteroom and the Predspalnya (anteroom) – such were the names of the front rooms within the private chambers of the Menshikov Palace. On the first floor there are rooms, which were characteristic for the buildings of the first half of 18 century - the Guard Room, the Great Hall, and the Great Seni. Now the Menshikov Palace is a branch of the State Hermitage Museum and is at least as interesting as the other palaces and residencies of St. Petersburg.