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Entries / The Grotto Pavilion.

The Grotto Pavilion.

Categories / Tsarskoe Selo and town of Pushkin. The digital chronological reference book/Monuments of history and culture

The Grotto pavilion with the pier , highlighting on the dark green background of the Old Garden and with its mirror reflection in the Great Pond water, pertains to classical views of the Catherine Park.
Such garden pavilion, decorated with shells and tuff inside, as well as the Hermitage was the obligatory attribute of regular park ensembles of the 18th century. In 1749 the architect Rastrelli developed the design of the Grotto pavilion for Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna and himself led the construction works. 210 big seashells and and 17.5 poods (about 480 kilogrammes) small seashells were used for decorating the pavilion. The construction of the pavilion was too long and even in 1761, when constructing the Catherine Palace was finished, the Grotto was among incompleted park constructions.
The Grotto facades are excelled with gorgeous ornamentation and magnificence of the Rastrelli’s Baroque taste. The quaint dome was crowned with carved wooden fountain, its streams spilt along the pavilion sides. The architectural décor was made using typical Rastrelli’s methods: grouping in pairs rusticated columns of composite order, pilasters, broken pediments, the complicated sculpture decoration, figured infill of doorways with sash doors. Arched windows and doors surrounds, windows-lucarnes were designed with plenty of decorative motifs, stucco moulding and at the same time with the seamless combination of atchitectural and sculptural compositions. The connection of the pavilion with “Neptune’s water kingdom” shows the sculpture decorations: volute dolphins, Neptune masks, figures of newts, heads of nereids, sea plants and shells placed on column capitals, surrounds and over windows.
Spatial and planned design of interiors with a broken cornice, columns set to walls, is typical for the Baroque style with its chamfered corners, niches for statues, exedras on butt-ends of the building. Interiors were not decorated with sea shells and stones during Yelizaveta Petrovna rule . Available now plaster decorating of interiors was made by the architect A. Rinaldi in 1771 in the time of Catherine II.
Under Catherine II the Grotto pavilion was often named as the Hall of Antiques, because of the collection of antiques sculptures and vases placed here, or the Morning Hall. In fair sunny weather the Empress, who always got up early, liked working here in mornings. She liked to practice literature in sunrise time, watching a landscape view of the park and colors, changed in sun rays, and light and shadows reflected in water mirror-like surface. The Grotto pavilion view is the most impressed at this time because it is located on the eastern coast of the pond elongated to the south-western side. Young people sometimes were gathered for having coffee or chocolate in the Morning Hall on these days.

Semenova Galina Victorovna

Catherine II, Empress
Elizaveta Petrovna, Empress
Rastrelli Francesco de
Rinaldi Antonio

Ekaterininsky Park/Pushkin, town