Topic: A Russian Moment
A bridge leads to the beautifully restored Bip Castle (Marienthal) in Pavlovsk Park
Bip Castle, also known as Paul’s Fortress or Bastion of Emperor Paul I, was built during the years 1795 to 1797 by order of Emperor Paul I, on the site of the former Marienthal Palace. This architectural whim of the son of Empress Catherine II is situated at the fork of the Slav and Tyzva rivers in the southern section of Pavlovsk park.
Soon after his ascension to the throne, Emperor Paul I issued a decree allocating 6,100 rubles for the construction of Paul’s Fortress, by the architect Vincenzo Brenna in 1795, construction lasted two years.
Theatrical in concept, the castle consisted of a two-storey pentagonal building with courtyard. It was surrounded by a wide moat, across which a single drawbridge provided access. Three towers, each more flamboyant than the last, lent it a bellicose air, which was reinforced by the daily—and grandiose—ceremony of the changing of the guard. The building was surrounded by fortifications constructed under the supervision of a military engineer Caus, including bastions, ravelins, lunettes and flushes. The castle was also equipped with 28 guns.
On April 19, 1798, Bip Castle was ranked by the St. Petersburg Engineering Department and, thus, was included in the military registry of fortresses of the Russian Empire. There was a military garrison stationed here, regular service was established, the cannon fired at noon and the drawbridge was raised at sunset. In the basement, the castle had its own guardhouse for military personnel who committed an offence.
On June 15, 1811, the castle was removed from the Engineering Department list and used for civilian purposes - as the country's first school for the deaf (1807-1810), a military hospital (1833-1834), the Alexander school (1835-1851) , parish and city school (early 20th century).
After the October revolution, the castle was occupied by the Board of Deputies. In October 1919, it served as the headquarters of General Yudenich. From the mid-1920s to 1941, the castle served as an orphanage, then a bank, a recruitment office and other warehouses.
During World War II, the castle burned to the ground during the Soviet offensive of 1944. For the next six decades, it was completely neglected as a romantic ruin on the outskirts of the once glorious Pavlovsk.
In the mid-2000s, the castle underwent a complete reconstruction and restoration, and today is used as a private hotel and restaurant.
© Paul Gilbert. 28 February, 2015