The Great Gatchina Palace was built from 1766 to 1781 by Antonio Rinaldi for Count Grigori Grigoryevich Orlov, who was a favourite of Catherine the Great, in Gatchina, a suburb of the royal capital Saint Petersburg. The Gatchina Palace combines classical architecture and themes of a medieval castle with ornate interiors typical of Russian classicism, located on a hill in central Gatchina next to Lake Serebryany. The Gatchina Palace became one of the favourite residences of the Russian Imperial Family, and during the 19th century was an important site of Russian politics. Since the February Revolution in 1917 it has been a museum and public park, and received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1990.

Facade of the front side of the Gatchina Palace. Plans in 1781

Gatchina Palace is a unique building. This is the only palace in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, built in the form of an old castle. The Gatchina Palace was built for 15 years, and then was rebuilt several times depending on the fashion and tastes of its owners.
Architects Antonio Rinaldi and Vincenzo Brenna, Andrei Zakharov and Andrei Voronikhin, Roman Kuzmin and many other talented architects, decorators and artists participated in its creation and design.
To date, the palace has been well restored based on photographs taken during the inventory in 1938, as well as on the preserved watercolors of famous masters.
The scale of this huge palace and park complex can be imagined if you climb the 191 steps to the Signal Tower, an optical telegraph was installed on it. From here you will see Gatchina, in full view.
Before the Second World War, it was one of the largest museums in St. Petersburg, there were more than 54,000 exhibits in it. Unfortunately, not all of them were saved during the occupation of the city, many after the war ended up in other museums of the world and Russia, but still the main values ​​were returned to the Gatchina Museum Complex.

Facade of the back side of the Gatchina Palace. Plans in 1781