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Print version. Published on site Rusnet.NL 8 December 2003

Encyclopedia :: G :: Gatchina

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Updated: 05.12.2003

Formerly (until 1929) Khotchino, or (1929-44) Krasnogvardeysk, city, Leningrad Region, north-western Russia, lying 15 miles (24 km) southwest of St. Petersburg. Pop. (1991 est.) 81,300.

The Gatchina Palace

The first mention of Khotchino dates from 1499, when it was a possession of Novgorod. Later it belonged to Livonia and Sweden. After 1721 it was returned to Russia and in the 1720s belonged to the sister of Peter I the Great, Natalia.

The town grew only after the building, between 1766 and 1772, of a summer palace there for Catherine II's favourite, Count Orlov. The palace was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Rinaldi; it had about 600 rooms, a theatre, and many works of art, and was also surrounded by a fine park.

Upon Orlov's disgrace the palace passed to Catherine's son, Paul I, who transformed it into a combination of palace, fortress, and barracks.

Although badly damaged during World War II, the palace was restored and is now a museum.

The modern city is a railway junction, with machine building, metalworking, and light industries.