Lefort Palace and monument to Peter I and F. Lefort in Lefortovo

The original appearance of the Lefort Palace is known thanks to engravings and descriptions. An eclectic style stone two-story building with Baroque elements began to be constructed by royal decree in 1697 to the design of architect Dmitry Aksamitov which was approved by Peter I.  It had a three-part layout, with the entrance located on the central axis and two flights of stairs leading to it. The reception room of the Palace was more than 300 square meters in area (with 10 meters high ceilings) and could simultaneously accommodate up to 1,500 guests. The construction of the Palace was financed by state funds, and Peter I gave it as a gift to his associate and friend Franz Lefort, a Swiss who entered into public service in Russia.

Franz Lefort participated in the campaigns of the Russian Army against the Crimean Khanate. In the midst of the confrontation between Tsarevna Sophia and Peter I in 1689, he helped the young Tsar who was taking refuge in the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius near Moscow. Lefort is believed to be the one who gave the Tsar the idea of sending a diplomatic mission to Europe which became known as the Grand Embassy and Peter I himself participated in it.

Even before the end of construction, the Palace became known as the “Ambassadorial House”, as it was used as a venue for diplomatic receptions, assemblies and theatre performances.  The completion of construction in February 1699 was celebrated for three days, and during the celebrations Peter I shortened long-skirted clothes of the guests with scissors. Franz Lefort died in his new palace as early as March 2, 1699. The building was inherited by his son Henri (Andrey), a lieutenant in a bombardier company, but he also died the following year.  The Tsar gave the Palace to Alexander Menshikov who reconstructed it supposedly to the design of Italian architect Giovanni Maria Fontana in 1707–1708. In 1711, the Palace was severely damaged by a fire which burned up a major part of the German settlement (sloboda).

In 1727, after the persecution and exile of Alexander Menshikov, the Palace was made state property and became a residence of Emperor Peter II who brought the court from St. Petersburg back to Moscow. The engagement ceremony of the Emperor and Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova took place in the Palace on November 30, 1729. However, on January 18, 1730, on the day scheduled for the wedding, Peter II died in the Lefort Palace. It was also there that the Supreme Privy Council gathered to decide to invite Anna Ivannovna to become the Empress.

The Palace was left uninhabited. In 1754, it was hit by a big fire. In the late 18th century, the building was rebuilt to the design of Matvei Kazakov to acquire classical shapes. In the early 19th century, it began to be used for storing archives of different public institutions. In the beginning of the 20th century, the palace was reconstructed to accommodate an archival repository. To this date, the building has been housing the Russian State Military Historical Archive.  The building is protected by the state as a monument of federal significance. In the 1950s and 1980s, it underwent rehabilitation which restored fragments of the original decorations on some sections of the facade.

Lefort Palace and monument to Peter I and F. Lefort in Lefortovo

2-ya Baumanskaya Street

(Baumanskaya metro station)