Lefortovo Palaces and Gardens

The origin of the unique architectural complex is connected with Peter the Great, who, since his youth, adored visiting the Yauza bank, particularly the Foreign Quarter, densely populated by foreigners. Furthermore, he was attached to it till the end of his life. Peter I had many friends among foreigners and “the best of them”, as the emperor called him, was Franz Lefort who possessed a house built in the early 1690s on the Yauza right bank. The Russian Tsar spent almost all his time giving balls and diplomatic receptions. Eventually the house could not contain such a huge number of emperor’s guests, henceforth, a need in a new building in the Foreign Quarter appeared.

The construction of the palace went on from 1697 to 1699 according to the plan approved by Peter the Great himself. On February, 12th in 1699 there was a marvelous housewarming celebration and on March, 2nd Franz Lefort who was not to have lived at the mansion died at the age of 43. The emperor presented the palace to his friend, duke Menshikov, and also gave 2000 roubles for its reconstruction. The duke possessed the Lefort’s Palace from 1706 to 1727.

On the edge of the XVIII century Lefortovo turned into a districts where Moscow aristocracy lived. Its development began in 1701 when one of the emperor’s adherent, boyar Fedor Golovin, got a yard on the left Yauza bank on the opposite side of the Lefort’s Palace from a Foreign Quarter dweller’s widow. Soon a magnificent mansion in a European style was built there. The Golovin Palace was designed to host those who stayed close to the emperor. From 1700 to 1702 its building was managed by the craftsman Dmitry Ivanov. The Golovin mansion paved the way to the series of palaces and gardens emergence on the Yauza left bank. Peter I loved that place and while in Moscow he would visit Golovin’s country estate, where celebrations, assemblies and diplomatic receptions took place. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that it was at that palace where Peter the Great welcomed the Louis XV delegation.

The distinctive feature that entails the architecture of the mansion is robust attitude to the natural surrounding, as the creators of the landscape changed the river flow, flattened and cleared the ground, so the natural landscape did change. Artificial water reservoirs such as fountains, cascades, mirror ponds and decorative pools of various forms are quite vivid in the landscape. The whole park has been turned into the palace’s intrinsic part.

The Lefortovo museum’s displays the history of Lefortovo, the Foreign Quarter and Peter the Great and his reforms. The exhibition encompasses the historic period from times of Peter I till nowadays.

— In the XVIII century Lefortovo was often visited by royal guests, namely Catherine I, Anna Ioannovna, Empress Elizabeth, Catherine II, Peter II and Paul I.

— In the XIX century military schools were built and manufacturing industry was developing at full swing.

— In the display reflecting the history of Lefortovo in the XX century the documents and photos of the huge industrial objects are provided.

Each historic period is presented by various pictures that provide the audience with representation of the Lefortovo image of that time. What is more, the museum maps demonstrate the evolution of this unique place in Russia. The museum staff conduct different sightseeing, costumed, bus and walking tours.

The Lefortovo manor today is the place where citizens and guests of Moscow can relax and attend interesting and informative lectures. The park still keeps some part of the red brick terrace, overgrown ponds, the F. Rostrelli’s grotto, which used to be sumptuous and the bridge-dam dividing the ponds. There is a linden alley on the bridge and nearby the lower pond, the visitors may observe the recently renovated arbor in memory of Peter I.

There are organized tours in the park and the hosts will be pleased to tell the visitors about how the park’s ensemble emerged and developed through history. Among other events several interactive informative lessons are arranged with the demonstration of visual materials and exhibits showing photos and videos of historic people and events connected with the manor. In Lefortovo, it is all about history.

Leave a Reply