Monplaisir is the most interesting and the most famous of all lesser palaces of Peterhof. The palace was built by the order of and for Peter I by prominent architects Andreas Schlűter, Johann Friedrich Braunstein, and Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond but the very first drafts and designs for the palace were made by Peter I himself.
Monplaisir wasn’t meant for major receptions and wasn’t planned to accommodate a lot of guests. It was built for Peter I’s private life, and everything there was designed to match the Emperor’s personal tastes and likings. This explains the name of the palace. Monplaisir means my delight in French..
The palace is quite small, cozy and has a homy feeling. It has only 6 rooms, among them Peter I’s Marine study, bedroom and kitchen, the State Hall in the center of the building with two galleries on both sides. Everything in the interior from the color of the walls to subjects of paintings, was determined the owner’s tastes.
The palace was built in the Dutch style, which was Peter I’s favourite. It has red brick walls, a high roof, window shutters, floor laid out with squares of white and dark marble, and of course, tiles, which Peter I loved so much.
Perhaps the most special thing about the palace is its location right beside the Gulf of Finland. The palace is separated from the sea by a small terrace only. The sound of sea waves and fresh wind swept inside through open windows. Being in the palace, Peter I could feel like being aboard the ship in the open sea.
The most well-known of all interiors is the Lacquered Study decorated in the Chinese style and lined with skillfully made lacquered panels. Some of the panels are originals surviving from Peter I’s times. Guests entering the room would never doubt that the panels were real Chinese work but they were made in Russia by Russian craftsmen. The panels were created by painters from Palekh village, which is famous for lacquer art handicraft.
Monplaisir was badly damaged in WWII but luckily less than other palaces. At least, it wasn’t fully destroyed. Many exhibits were evacuated, which is why authentic items which belonged to Peter I can be seen on display now.
No other palace in Peterhof or St.Petersburg will give you as much insight into Peter the Great’s personality as Monplaisir palace – the Tzar’s favourite residence and his delight - will do.