Peter I the Great (1672–1725), Russia’s first emperor and the most celebrated one of the Romanov dynasty. The world history knew not many brilliant reformers like Peter. His sweeping reform modernized all sides of Russia including legislation, courts, finances, cities, church, army and social life. The Great Northern War of 1700–1721, during which Russia with its allies Denmark and Saxony opposed Sweden to seize the Baltic coast, became the engine of Peter’s reform. In order to win, Peter needed a strong, trained army well provided with ammunition, uniform, money, etc. That was the period when Russian industry was born and administration and financial systems were changed.
In 1703, after Russia re-captured the Neva River mouth during the Northern War, the new capital Saint Petersburg was founded. From its first day, Peter had the idea of surrounding it with a number of luxurious suburban estates and palaces. One of the remote estates was Saarskaya Myza, which was to become the famous Tsarskoe Selo. After the Northern War, Peter was proclaimed Emperor of All the Russias. Russia became an empire. Peter the Great died on 28 January 1725 (Old Style) without naming a successor.
The site that would become Tsarskoe Selo had since ancient times been Russian territory. These old Novgorodian lands were occupied by the Swedes in the seventeenth century and then re-taken by Russia during the Great Northern War of 1700–1721. A small Finnish estate “Saarismoisio” (“the manor on an elevated spot”) was subsequently Russianized as “Sarskoye Selo”. It became “Tsarskoe Selo” (i.e. “the royal village”) when Peter the Great presented the estate to his future wife Catherine in 1710 and the construction of a wooden summer cottage with service buildings was started on the hill.
In 1717, while St Petersburg was being created on the banks of the Neva, the architect Johann Friedrich Braunstein;started supervising the construction of the first masonry royal residence at Tsarskoe Selo - “the stone chambers” of Catherine I. In August 1724, to mark the completion of building work, a celebration was held at the palace that included “three salutes fired from thirteen cannon”. The event was attended by the Tsar and major figures in the state, who found “lots of taste and exquisiteness in Catherine’s house”. According to legend, the housewifely empress spent hours working in her vegetable garden. About that time, the regular garden was laid out, with terraces upon the slopes before the palace, and with canals, alleys and parterres. The Menagerie in the nearby woods contained game animals for hunting. Thus was the foundation of the Tsarskoe Selo architectural ensemble laid during Peter the Great’s epoch.