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Amble Through the Splendid Lefortovo Park

The charming Lefortovo Park in east Moscow is located on both banks of the Yauza River with a picturesque stone bridge joining the two sides. The park features beautiful gardens, ponds and streams, as well as Dutch-style canals and majestic old palaces that remind visitors of a by-gone era.

The park, the nearby prison and surrounding area were named in honor of Franz Lefort, a Geneva-born soldier and adventurer who became a general in the army of Peter the Great. He later became an admiral in the navy, and remained a close companion of the young Tsar. Having spent many hours with his companions at Lefort’s house in the German Suburb of Moscow, Peter decided to build a palace for Lefort in 1697. The building was completed at around the time of Lefort’s death and was passed on to another companion that Peter favored, Danylich Menshikov. He went on to make some changes to the façade of the palace in 1708, which thereafter remained unchanged. The building currently houses an archive of military history, but is not open to the public.

Lefortovo Park was originally laid out in 1701 by one of Peter’s military commanders, Feodr Galovin, and was later added to by Empress Anna Ivanovna, followed by Empress Elizaveta Petrovna, who had their own palaces built, as well as a number of landscape features, many of which have remained to this day. The palace that stands at the far end of Lefortovo Park was built for Ekaterina II, more often referred to as Catherine the Great. Three renowned architects of the time, Rinaldi, Camporesi and Quarenghi, designed the palace of Catherine. While the palace was being built, Italian-born Bartolomeo Rastrelli undertook the extensive remodeling of the park. When the palace was completed in the year 1776, it was Moscow’s largest building at the time, and to this day the palace holds the distinction of having one of the longest colonnades in Moscow. The palace became military property following the end of Catherine’s rule and serves as the home of the Malinovsky Tank Academy.

The Peter and Paul Church stands in the far eastern corner of Lefortovo Park. Toward the end of the 18th century, the original wooden church that had been constructed in 1711 for the use of the soldiers of Lefortov’s Regiment, was replaced with the current stone building.

Although the historic buildings in Lefortovo Park are not open to the public, it is still worthwhile to pay a visit, stroll through the gardens and imagine what it must have been like when it was occupied by Russian Royalty.

 



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