Railing detail of Summer Garden.

Summer Garden

St Petersburg

The city's oldest park, these leafy, shady gardens can be entered either at the northern Neva or southern Moyka end. Early-18th-century architects designed the garden in a Dutch baroque style, following a geometric plan, with fountains, pavilions and sculptures studding the grounds. The ornate cast-iron fence along the Neva side was a later addition, built between 1771 and 1784.

The gardens functioned as a private retreat for Peter the Great (his modest Summer Palace, closed for renovations, is here) before becoming a strolling place for St Petersburg’s 19th-century leisured classes. Only in the 20th century were commoners admitted.

Tours can be booked in advance or at the Teahouse which is the best of several cafes to be found in the gardens and which occasionally hosts music concerts on summer evenings.

The 92 marble statues, busts and sculptural groups that decorate parts of the garden are replicas: the 18th-century originals are housed in the Mikhailovsky Castle.

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