Sometimes, mom would take me to one of the Palace Museums. Since Saint – Petersburg used to be the capital of the Russian Empire, the were multiple summer residencies of the royal family and grand dukes. And even though Leningrad was not the capital of the Soviet Union, the palaces were still there, and almost all of them were turned into museums. If you read into the history of WWII, and specifically about the Seige of Leningrad, you will learn that most of these palaces were literally burnt to the ground. The majority of them were carefully restored in their original glory, but no matter how authentic these palaces looked, that was not the original work of the 18th century.
However, one of these summer residences was not ruined, or the warfare damage was minor. I am talking about the original Alexander Menshikov’s mansion, Oranienbaum, which was renamed Lomonosov in an attempt to exclude the German names from the Soviet toponymic. After Menshikov, several other Russian royalties owned the place, and more palaces were erected nearby.
Due to several strategic reasons, these palaces suffered only minor damage during WWII. In the end, this didn’t help preserve the architectural masterpieces – the campus is located further from the city than other summer palaces, so its maintenance was deprioritized.
Fortunately, Sosnovaya Polyana is approximately halfway between Saint-Petersburg and Oranienbaum, so it was a shorter trip for us. On the other hand, the palaces didn’t look as grand as in Peterhoff, and most of the time, there were fewer tourists and shorter lines to enter museums.
I loved the park and the palaces, especially the one called “Sledding hill” (Katalnaya Gorka). The name is charming, and the palace is small and elegant.