The Strelna estate was founded in the early 1700s when the outcome of the Northern War was still uncertain and all residences in and around the city had a purely utilitarian character. The first mention of Strelna comes in Peter's campaign journal for 1706, when the Tsar gave Menshikov orders to have a wooden house built as a stopping-place on the Strelna manor. Only after victory at Poltava (1709), when Peter declared that "now the foundation stone of St Petersburg has been perfectly laid", did work gradually begin on the construction of a new, grand palace at Strelna.
First, under the direction of Bartolomeo Carlo Rastrelli, who came to St Petersburg in spring 1716, the 12-metre-high natural ; terrace between the sea and the River Strelna was levelled out. The slope of the terrace on the side of the Gulf was turned into three steps; the low-lying marshy shore was drained and raised, and three canals dug towards the sea.
A few months later LeBlond also arrived in Russia and in early 1717 he drew up and sent to Peter (who was abroad) a plan for a palace and park. It was approved and work began. After LeBlond's sudden death in 1719, he was replaced by Nicolo Michettl, who put forward his own plans. Peter had by this time cooled towards Strelna, however. He was directing all efforts to the improvement of Peterhof, and suspended the work. It was resumed under Empress Elizabeth and again under Catherine II.
In 1797 Paul I presented the stillunfinished Strelna to his second son Konstantin, after whose death the estate passed to his descendants and became known by his name. Prominent architects (Voronikhin, Rusca) were invited to work here, but they failed to produce a finished, integral ensemble. The palace, suffering from repeated fires and reconstructions, gradually lost the 18th-century splendour that can be seen in Makhayev's engravings. After a large-scale reconstruction, completed in 2003, it has become the Palace of Congresses run by the administration of the President of the Russian Federation.
By 2003 the Konstantijnovsky Palace was completely reconstructed and today, as the Palace of I Congresses, it is managed by the administration of the Russian President.
Photo Palace. Entrance to the Konstantinovsky Palace, a side channel of the palace.