© istock/leoaleks
© istock/leoaleks

Summer Garden in Saint Petersburg: flowers and sculptures

2 minutes to read

While in every busy city, there’s always a question where to go to enjoy nature and breathe in, while letting go of the stressful thoughts. In Saint Petersburg, one of such places is the Summer Garden, or ‘Letny Sad’ in Russian - a nice square with plants and sculptures. It was initially designed to be a French formal garden, i.e. a garden based on symmetry. Today, everyone can go there to be inspired by nature and timelessness, as the Summer Garden is almost the same age as Saint Petersburg.

Back to the start

© istock/OlyaSolodenko
© istock/OlyaSolodenko

The Summer Garden was founded at the beginning of the 18th century. It wasn’t all of a sudden, since the area had been already in use, and it belonged to a Swedish mayor. While choosing territory to establish his own summer residence, Emperor Peter the Great decided to take into consideration the one which had already been in use.  The Emperor ordered to build a summer palace for him, which was performed by famous architect Domenico Trezzini. The residence, built in the style of Petrine Baroque, is very simple and hardly reminds of a palace. It has 14 rooms and two kitchens and now serves as a museum. 

The Summer Garden which surrounds the palace was designed by Peter the Great himself. Rumor has it that the Emperor wanted to outshine Versailles established by King Louis XIV of France. At first, Peter the Great wanted the territory to be planted by flowers only. But, since they were in blossom only in the summer season, the garden was called the ‘Summer Garden’.

Appearance

© istock/Eshma
© istock/Eshma

The Summer Garden in Saint Petersburg was projected just in accordance with all the important rules of French formals' gardens. This means it got straight alleys, strict layout, sculptures, and fountains. The Summer Garden has such a unique specialty as being surrounded by water from all four sides. Unfortunately, it suffered a lot after one of the strongest floods in 1777, and fountains were destroyed. But, at the end of the 18th century, the Summer Garden got one of the most significant things it’s famous for nowadays - a massive cast-iron grid with three gates.

Thanks to many sculptures erected in the Summer Garden in Saint Petersburg, it can truly be referred to as an open-air museum. At first, Peter the Great delivered them from Italy personally and valued them a lot. Many statues were destroyed by floods or just put to other places, such as other residences. Apart from that, the weather and vandals affected the rest of the statues a lot. That’s why now what we see in the Summer Garden are copies put instead of original statues, which are being stored in Mikhailovsky Palace now.  One of the most beautiful things in the Summer Garden is the massive vase standing close to Karpiev Pond. It was given to Emperor Nicholas I of Russian by King Charles XIV John of Sweden after wars between the two countries ended.

Now, located just at a stone’s throw from Field of Mars in Saint Petersburg, the Summer Garden is a nice square with plants and sculptures. Let it inspire you in the way it inspired famous author Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, poets Vassily Andreevich Zhukovsky, Alexander Alexandrovich Blok, who liked spending time here. The garden attracted more people like composer Pyotr Ilyich Chaikovsky, novelist Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov, fabulist Ivan Andreevich Krylov (whose monument is located in Summer Garden), and many other outstanding persons of Russian culture.

Summer Garden, St. Petersburg
Summer Garden, St. Petersburg
Summer Garden, Naberezhnaya Lebyazh'yey Kanavki, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186

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The author

Maria Selezneva

Maria Selezneva

Hi, I am Maria, or Masha, as Russian speaking people call me. I’m your local guide for must-sees as well as off-the-beaten-track places in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I’ll show you my favourite destinations in both cities, where you can feel the true spirit of local traditions.

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