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Luxurious home. Horses will return to Palace stables at Peterhof

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Saving cultural heritage – the primary task which reconstruction of historic sites is destined to solve. A sanatorium had operated there for several decades, then the buildings started to decay. Alexandra Lee found out what the old-new stables will look like.

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Vsevolod Yakovlev, chief architect of construction company: “What we see now is neo-gothic. Benoit was masterful in that. This wonderfully painted ceiling. We are lucky to have kept part of it in good condition – this is our material heritage. Non-material heritage also exists – memories of our ancestors”

The diagnosis for destructive amnesia of this memory has been set in modern times. Just as it has been set for the genious Benoit – who was 30 years old when he designed this ceiling, not in a typical temple, but at a horse arena. As well as for James Phyllis – creator of Russian cavalry school, who trained riders here. And, certainly, for the “ideologist” of creating a luxurious home for horses – Emperor Nicholas I. For almost 40 years, stables at Peter’s Palace had functioned as a sanatorium – the building was refurbished for the needs of the people.

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “It’s hard to believe it, but for a long time within the Soviet period this historic stables housed a kitchen. Even the classis banner “soup, potatoes, veggies” has remained here. When the sanatorium went bust, everything was abandoned. Time has stood still here. But in 3 years, an investor promises to return this building to those it had initially been built for”

The project of renovating the stables would solve to issues – save the object of cultural heritage and develop the sport to a world class level. Stables for 95 horses will be returned here, another arena will be constructed and even a solarium for horses will be put.

But for now – it’s all in the mix here. For those who stayed at the sanatorium, walls of the stables invoke nostalgia for the past times. Some believe it’s the sanatorium which needs to be restored, not the home for horses.

Valeriy Burovenkov, director of affiliate at Agency on historic and cultural monuments: “As for the Peter’s Palace sanatorium restoration – it would require a lot more funding in the current circumstances than restoring this historic monument. And I think it is necessary to bring it to what it was designed for initially – the palace stables”

It’s still billions of rubles. The project is still being blueprinted. There’s a legend that Nicholas I wanted to build a forge right in the middle of the road here, for more convenience – right next to the gate of the stables. Benoit drew 2 sketches in one night – one with captivating architectural perspective, the other with the building spoiling the view. The emperor eventually abandoned his idea.

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “You, as the head architect of the project, would you change anything?”

Vsevolod Yakovlev, chief architect of construction company: “Yes, without arenas of modern sizes this would be something still-born”

The original arena – not deemed big enough today – will be given to youth courses. The outside field – covered with a glass dome - will be used for competitions.

Rafael Dayanov, architect: “I’m ardently against such interchanges. But, on the other hand, it’s always a problem – when an object of cultural heritage could die for the lack of investors”

Investor’s initial plan would be clearing the stables off its sanatorium legacy. For instance, every stable will have its own gate. It will take some time to get in the saddle, but the new complex for horses is expected to pay off in the first few years of its work. 

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