State Palace of Congresses opens in Strelnya, Petersburg suburb

Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Union leaders took part in the opening ceremony of the State Palace of Congresses in Strelnya, Petersburg's suburb.

Peter I intended to build the main sea residence, Russian Versailles, in Strelnya. Architect Niccolo Michetti designed the project of the Grand Strelnya Palace. The emperor himself laid the first stone in the foundation of the new building in the summer of 1720.

However, Peter I soon lost his interest in Strelnya and began the construction of a new residence in Peterhof some years later. The Strelnya Palace went into a decline for some time.

Paul I's ascension to the throne marked a new stage in its history. In 1797 the residence was presented to his son Konstantin and was called the Konstantin Palace.

The palace was rebuilt more than once. Such famous architects as Rastrelli, Voronikhin, Rusca, Stuckenschneider and Bosse worked on the creation of its appearance.

After 1917 the Konstantin Palace was nationalised. A school, sports societies and political courses were placed there and after 1945 an Arctic academy was arranged there.

The reconstruction of the palace began in November 2001 and on May 20, 2003 the state commission signed an act of commissioning the Palace of Congresses.

The ensemble of the Konstantin Palace is included in the list of the UNESCO historic-cultural legacy.

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