Presidential residence opens doors to photographers

St.Petersburg’s historic neighbour, Strelna, is hosting a photo display which lifts the lid on life inside the presidential residence – the Constantine Palace. Following extensive renovation, the former museum opened its doors to photographers for the ver

­A select group of just over 40 photographers were initially invited to capture hidden aspects of life at the presidential residence. A jury narrowed the field to the work of just 15 of them, one of whom will be voted winner by visitors to the exhibition.

The images on display will show much more than just the interiors of the state and living rooms and their decoration. As the photographers were given free access to every hall, cottage, cavern as well as the palace’s surrounding areas, the pictures will also reveal the present appearance of vaults, kitchens, the park’s drawbridges, and the work done to prepare the halls for official meetings.  

The palace at Strelna and its surrounding park – one of St. Petersburg’s most beautiful ensembles – was founded in 1715 by Peter the Great. His ambitious idea was to make this imperial residence nothing less than a “Russian Versailles”. He later abandoned the site at Strelna and went on to realise his vision at nearby Peterhof.

During the Soviet period the entire ensemble fell into decay. The interior decor was mostly lost, the greater part of the palace furniture stolen and the sculpture destroyed. World War II brought even greater damage.

Preparing to mark the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003, the Russian government decided to restore the palace and its grounds and turn it into a state conference center and a presidential residence. The early 19th-century stables were reconstructed into a four-star hotel.

The renovated Constantine Palace welcomed over fifty heads of state during the anniversary celebrations and three years later, in July 2006, it hosted the 32nd G8 summit.

The exhibition will open in Strelna on August 8 and will continue until the end of the summer.

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