Skip to main content

On 26 May 1776 Vasily Neyelov was instructed by the Empress Catherine II “to build at Tsarskoye Selo, in the New Garden and towards the Caprice a masonry Chinese summer-house on arches with four rises,” to be faced with crimson, yellow and pale blue brick. The architect borrowed the design for the bridge from an album popular at that time – Rural Architecture in Chinese Taste by the English architects William and John Halfpenny. Although the idea was not original, its detailed working-up and realization demanded great skill from those involved. Vaily Neyelov, who began construction, and his son Ilya, who completed it in 1779, coped brilliantly with this difficult task.

The Krestovy Bridge spans the Krestovy Canal in the Alexander Park. Despite its relatively small size, it seems monumental on account of its proportions and the originality of its forms: powerful, strongly curving crossed half-arches serve as the base for a platform bearing an octagonal pavilion faced with coloured glazed brick that was produced by the manufacturer Conradi. The walls of the pavilion are pierced by tall lancet arches. The curving “Chinese” roof is painted “in imitation of fish scales” and crowned by a spire onto which spheres are threaded. Broad flights of granite steps, twenty-three on each side, lead up to the pavilion. The round platforms at the bottom of each flight were paved with two-coloured marble slabs. The keystone of the arches hangs over the water and has been given the form of a pendant boss or “globe”, as they called it in the eighteenth century.