1826-1829, architect A.A. Menelaws
1841-1842, architect A.I. Stackenschneider
In the middle of the XVIII century, the rising interest for the Middle Ages, connected with the beginning of the romantic movement in England, quickly spread throughout the world and gave life to the new neo-Gothic style. The Cottage Palace- the main building of the Alexandria park - is executed in this style.
After ascending the throne, the Emperor Nicholas I ordered to the Scottish architect A. Menelaws, to build a "rural house" in the spirit of English country villas, not far from the grand Peterhof. It was created for Aleksandra Feodorovna, the beloved wife of the tsar, who could not stand the pompous ceremonial interiors. The house became a personal, intimate space of the imperial family, with its gates closed for outsiders.
The building turned out unusual for its time. On all sides, it is surrounded by the balconies, terraces with openwork iron arcade, overgrown with greenery. The oriel windows jut out of the wall, surfaces with sashes in the form of lancet arches. There is a charming garden in front of the picturesque house.
In 1829, the emperor presented the estate to Aleksandra Feodorovna, and in her honor called the property "Alexandria". White roses were the favorite flowers of the empress, so the roses in "Alexandria" were presented in countless variety of forms, kinds and tones. Even the coat-of-arms of "Alexandria", invented devised on the request of Nicholas I by the poet V. A. Zhukovsky, portrayed a blue heraldic shield with a knight sword, passed through a wreath of white roses. Zhukovsky also came up with the motto: "For Faith, Tsar and Fatherland." This coat-of-arms, is depicted on the facades of the palace, in the interiors and on many things, that are kept in the Cottage Palace to this day.
In the early 1840's, the architect A. Stackenschneider, built an adjoining dining room to the Cottage Palace, with an outdoor terrace, decorated with an elegant marble fountain, made by Felicia de Foveaux. In the niche of the northern wall of the palace, there is a sculpture, "Madonna with a Child", work of I.P. Vitali.
The neo-Gothic style was manifested not only in architecture, but also in the decoration of interiors. The distinctive ornament in the form of lancet arches, rosaces, shamrocks and finials was used in stucco decorations, paintings and in the design of furniture and objects of decorative and applied art. The collection of palace paintings, includes works of the outstanding Russian artists: I.K. Aivazovsky, O. A. Kiprensky, S. F. Shchedrin, M. N. Vorobyev, T. A. Neff, F. A. Moller.
The Cottage Palace is also interesting by its numerous family heirlooms, preserving the memory of their owners and the historical events of the era. A stone with the monogram of the Turkish Sultan, is mounted inside the vestibule wall, brought by Nicholas I from Varna, in the assault of which he participated. The silver chandelier in the Large reception, was a gift for the silver wedding of the spouses, from the German relatives of the empress. The chandelier is an openwork basket, entwined with a garland of twenty five roses, according to the number of happy years together. The fact that the family had an important place in the emperor's life, is represented by the sculptural portraits of his wife and children, in his Study.
The Cottage Palace is the unique monument of the Romantism era, that is preserved until our days, without any reconstructions and later accretions. The interiors of the palace, filled with authentic items, evoke an atmosphere of the family warmth and comfort. In Nicholas I's own words, he wanted to be here not as an emperor, but "a husband of the Peterhof land-lady", and his wife Aleksandra Feodorovna confessed, that here, she was "happy as nowhere else."