November 18, 2016

2869 RUSSIA (Leningrad Oblast) - Palace and Park Ensemble of the Town of Gatchina and its Historical Centre - part of Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (UNESCO WHS)

Gatchina is a town located 45km south of Saint Petersburg by the road leading to Pskov. It was first documented in 1499 as a village (Khotchino) in possession of Novgorod the Great. In the 17th century it passed to Livonia, then to Sweden, and was returned to Russia during the Great Northern War. In 1708, it was given by Peter the Great to his sister Natalya Alexeyevna, and after her death, Peter founded an Imperial Hospital and Apothecary here.

In 1765, it became the property of Count Orlov, who built here, between 1766 and 1788, a sombre castle with 600 rooms and laid out an extensive English landscape park, with an adjacent zoo and a horse farm. A triumphal arch was erected to a design by the architect Antonio Rinaldi, forming a monumental entrance. Gatchina Palace was expanded several times by several imperial owners. Rococo interiors were designed by Rinaldi and Vincenzo Brenna and executed by Italian stuccoworkers and Russian craftsmen.

After the Orlov's death, Catherine the Great bought Gatchina and granted it to her son, the Grand Duke Paul. He invested many resources as well as using his experience from his travels around Europe to make Gatchina an exemplary town and residence. During the 1790s Paul expanded and rebuilt much of the palace and renovated palatial interiors in the sumptuous Neoclassical style. In November 1796, following the death of his mother, Paul became Tsar Paul I, and granted Gatchina the status of the Imperial City.

Nicholas I made the most significant expansion of the palaces and parks, adding the Arsenal Halls to the main palace, which served as the summer residence. Alexander II used Gatchina Palace as his second residence. He built a hunting village and other additions and turned the areas south of Gatchina into his retreat. Alexander III made Gatchina his prime residence, and the palace became known as "The Citadel of Autocracy".

Nicholas II, the last Russian Tsar, spent his youth in the Gatchina Palace, which remained one of the official Imperial Residences. In May 1918, in the former imperial palace, one of the first museums in the country was opened "for the victorious popular masses of the Russian Revolution". From 1918 to 1941, the palace and parks were open to public as a national museum. The first 18th-century state rooms were opened to the public in 1985, including the Anteroom, the Marble Dining Room, Paul's Throne Room and the exhibition installed on the second floor of the Central Building.

The Palace and Park Ensemble of the Town of Gatchina and its Historical Centre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments, about which I wrote here.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series Russia. Regions, designed by V. Beltyukov and issued on August 21, 2007. All six stamps has the same face values (7.00 RUB)
• Altai Krai
• Vologda Oblast - It's on the postcard 2869
• Irkutsk Oblast
• Novosibirsk Oblast
• Orel Oblast
• Rostov Oblast

The last stamp, designed by V. Beltyukov, was issued on June 23, 2016, to mark the 800th Foundation Anniversary of Rzhev City.

Gatchina - Wikipedia
Gatchina Palace - Wikipedia
Gatchina Palace - Official website

Sender: Alyoina (direct swap)
Sent from Gatchina (Leningrad Oblast / Russia), on 03.11.2016
Photo: A. Pompeev

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