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Family home of the Konstantinovichi branch of the Romanovs
Strelna was granted to Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich(second son of Paul I) and his wife Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna (aunt of Queen Victoria). Despite a great fire in 1803, the Constantine Palace was completed by 1807. Andrei Voronikhin and Luigi Rusca were held responsible for architecture of its upper storeys. After Constantine's death, the palace passed to his nephew, and the Konstantinovichi branch of the Romanov dynasty retained its ownership until the Revolution.
After the ravages of German occupation, only the palace walls were left standing, all interior decoration was gone. No effective restoration had been undertaken until 2001 when Vladimir Putin ordered the palace to be converted into a presidential residence in St. Petersburg. The park with canals, fountains and drawbridges was then recreated to Le Blond's original designs, complete with a water-bound pavilion by the sea shore. In front of the palace are the equestrian statue of Peter the Great, originally installed in 1911 in Riga, while Mikhail Shemyakin's modernist sculpture of Peter's family strolling through the garden may be found closer to the sea shore. Several rooms in the restored palace are dedicated to the poet Konstantin Romanov (who was born there).
Recreated neoclassical interiors housed the CIS Summit, June 2008
In preparation for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the founding St. Petersburg, the Russian government decided to restore the palace and its grounds as a state conference center and presidential residence. The renovated Constantine Palace hosted more than fifty heads of state during St. Petersburg tercentenary celebrations in 2003. Three years later, in July 2006 (July 15-17), it hosted the 32nd G8 summit.
Just in case you mistakenly heard that it was all ice and snow in Russia, take a peek at the Big Bikini Exposition. This is right on the river Moskva in Moscow!Moscow has been the capital of Russia for almost its entire history. The exception is during the period of the Russian Empire, which lasted from 1721 until the Russian Revolution 1917. For these two centuries the capital was St. Petersburg. The Russian Empire was the second largest contiguous Empire in world memory; only the Mongol Empire had been greater.Check out what's happening north of Mongolia these days, in ChitaAlthough you may not have heard of Sochi, on the Black Sea, they're building up quickly and hope to host the 2014 Olympics.Other periods of Russian history include the Tsardom of Russia, from Ivan IV to Peter the Great, and the Grand Duchy (14th-16th centuries).The earliest period of Russian history was ruled by the Novgorod Republic and Kievan Rus, which was the first Russian state dating back to 800AD in Kiev.Modern Russia remains one of the world's superpowers. They launched the earth's second satellite, called Sputnik 1, and were the first country to put a human being into orbit around earth. (The first one is called the Moon.)After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a federal republic of 83 states.Text by Steve Smith.