The Great Gatchina Palace (Russian: Большой Гатчинский дворец) was built in 1766-1781 in Gatchina town (Russia) by Antonio Rinaldi for Count Grigori Grigoryevich Orlov who was a favourite of Catherine II. The Gatchina Palace is located on the hill above Lake Serebryannoe. It combines themes of a medieval castle and a country residence. Palace interiors are exemplary of Russian classicism at the turn of 18th-19th centuries. The Gatchina Palace was one of the favourite residences of the Imperial family.
Catherine the Great took such a great liking to the Gatchina Palace and park that, at Orlov's death in 1783, she bought it from his heirs and presented it to her son, the future Emperor Paul I. Paul I was the master of Gatchina for 18 years. He invested considerable resources and used his experience from his travels around Europe to make Gatchina an exemplary palace and town. During the 1790s, Paul expanded and rebuilt much of the palace, and renovated interiors in the sumptuous Neoclassical style (illustration, left).
Paul I graced the park with numerous additions, bridges, gates, and pavilions, such as "The Isle of Love", "The Private garden", "The Holland garden" and "The Labyrinth" among many other additions. In 1796, after the death of his mother, Catherine the Great, Paul became Emperor Paul I of Russia, and granted Gatchina the status of Imperial City ( official residence of the Russian Emperors.) A remarkable monument of Paul's reign is the Priory Palace on the shore of the Black Lake. Constructed for the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John, it was presented to the Order by a decree of Paul I of Russia dated 23 August 1799.