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The Summer Garden and the River


Peter the Great ordered the foundation of the Summer Garden on the place of a former Swedish major’s farmstead. It was an open and swampy space situated in the delta of the Neva River on a low terrace that geologically formed the bottom of the ancient Litorinian Sea.
From the outset this Tsar’s residence was connected with river water, surrounded by water and influenced by water. The northern boundary of the Garden in Peter the Great’s time was the Neva river. The eastern boundary is formed by the Besimianni Eric River (later renamed Fontanka), the western edge by the artificially created Lebyazhi Canal (Swan Canal) and the south by the perpendicular canal that divided the Summer Garden into two parts. The Carp Pond was founded on the site of a small natural wetland.


The major functions of all these canals were for drainage. The love of the Tsar for water and ships ideally could be illustrated in the “Gavanets”, a small harbor that specially connected the entrance of the Summer Palace with the Fontanka River. Peter the Great was truly a Russian Neptune!
Because of the close proximity to water, the Summer Garden was always one of the first victims of the Neva’s catastrophic floods, the worst of which occurred in 1777, 1824, and 1924.
In the 1780's there was a major effort to reclaim the river bank along the Summer Garden. A new embankment was built that effectively "moved" the garden 46m. away from the river.

Further topics and interdisciplinary essays
History and Design of the Garden

Garden and River

Ecology of an Urban Greenspace

The Summer Garden in Poetry

Nostalgia as a Cultural Force

References and links

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