Priory Palace in Gatchina


Not far from the Gatchina Palace, on the shores of the Black Lake, surrounded by an old park, there is the Priory Palace, or, as it was called before, the Priory. It was built in 1797-1798 according to the technology of the earth-dug for the Grand Master, the head of the Order of Malta. From a distance, the Priory Palace resembles a Catholic monastery. The similarity is enhanced by a tall tower, reminiscent of a bell tower, with bright white walls with red roofs that seem to grow out of the waters of the Black Lake.

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Construction of the Priory Palace

In the fall of 1797, preparatory work began, from June 15 to September 12, 1798, walls, fences and palace buildings were erected. The height of the building for stability should not exceed two floors, the walls were arranged like buttresses, expanding downward: the difference in the width of the walls near the basement and under the cornice is 13 cm.The entire palace cost 27 thousand rubles:

  • stone, carpentry, carpentry and iron roofing - 25 thousand rubles,
  • earthen structure of the whole house, fences and services - 2 thousand rubles.

The retaining wall was made of porous, lightweight and at the same time frost-resistant Pudost stone, mined near the village of Pudost near Gatchina. The paritsa stone was used for the construction of the tower.

According to legend, the Priory is connected with the Gatchina Palace by an underground passage. The restorers did find it, but they could not go through to the end. Perhaps this is part of an underground canal for the drainage of groundwater, laid by Lvov.

On August 22, 1799, the emperor took over the palace, and on August 23, he granted it to the Order of Malta. By that time, Paul was de facto the head of the order, the Grand Master. Thus, he became the owner of the Priory. On October 12, 1799, the knights of the Order of Malta handed over to the Grand Master three ancient relics of the Hospitallers - a particle of the tree of the Holy Cross, the Filerim Icon of the Mother of God and the right hand of John the Baptist.

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S. Tonchi. Portrait of Paul I in the attire of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1801
S. Tonchi. Portrait of Paul I in the attire of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, 1801

Emperor Alexander I, protector of the Order of Malta, transferred the Priory to the state treasury. From time to time, members of the imperial family came here. In the 1820s, with the permission of the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, a Lutheran temple was temporarily built in the Priory. In the 1880s, the palace was partially reconstructed, water supply and sewerage were carried out, the building was converted for permanent residence of people - subsequently, apartments were provided here for courtiers.

At the beginning of the 20th century, exhibitions began to be held here, during the First World War there was a hospital. After the revolution, before the war, it first housed an excursion station, and in the 30s, recreation centers for Leningrad factories. During the Great Patriotic War, the Priory survived, thus proving the stability of the adobe technology, only part of the fence and one of the guard towers were destroyed, the roof was demolished. After the war, various organizations were located: first, a military construction unit, then the House of Pioneers and Schoolchildren, and since 1968, the Regional Museum of Local Lore. In the 1980s, the restoration of the Priory Palace began, and in 2004 it opened to visitors.

Photos of the Priory Palace, interiors of the Priory

Already from afar, when you approach the Priory, it shakes. It seems that the white castle-monastery seems to grow out of the Black Lake. The park here is not as well-groomed as the Palace, the water bloomed by August.

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Priory palace on the shores of the Black Lake

On the first floor there is an exhibition of oriental art, on the second - an exposition related to the construction of the Priory and the Order of Malta.

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Interior of one of the Priory halls

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Model of the Priory Palace

Gatchina, Priory Palace

The interior of one of the halls on the second floor

Gatchina, Priory Palace

The interior of one of the halls on the second floor

Gatchina, Priory Palace

The interior of one of the halls on the second floor

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Priory Tower

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Garden near the palace

Gatchina, Priory Palace

View of the Priory Palace from the hill

Gatchina, Priory Palace

Priory resembles a German abbey in its appearance

Legends of the Priory Palace

Many legends are connected with the Priory and the park. So, according to one of them, on white nights in the Priory and Palace parks you can meet the ghost of Emperor Paul. He silently walks along the old alleys. He shouldn't be afraid. You just need to get off the path and, at his approach, make a low courteous bow. He will answer with a calm nod of his head and disappear into the mist.

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Gatchina, Priory Park

Priory Park and Lake Filkino

Address, opening hours of the Priory Palace, how to get there

Address: Gatchina, st. Chkalov, Priory Park.

The museum is open:

  • from May to September (summer time) from 11.00 to 19.00 (ticket office until 18.00);
  • from October to April (winter time) from 10.00 to 18.00 (ticket office until 17.00).

Day off is the first Tuesday of every month. More details by phone: 8 (81371) 76 467


  • Electric trains from the Baltic station of St. Petersburg to the station. "Baltic Gatchina", "Warsaw Gatchina".
  • Bus No. 431, fixed-route taxis No. 18, 18a, 100 from the station. metro "Moskovskaya" and No. 631 from the station. metro station "Prospect Veteranov"