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The Chinese Garden with the Shell and Vase Fountains is situated on a small piece of land between the sea and the buildings which form the eastern wing of the Monplaisir ensemble. The layout of the Garden is based upon the main principle of Japanese and Chinese landscaping, which aims at creating a variety of impressions within a small area. The picturesque arrangement of trees and bushes, and the meandering paths and brooks crossed by small humpbacked bridges with light railings all contribute to this effect.

The dominant feature of the garden's composition is a low hillock adorned with the marble sculptural group of Cupid and Psyche. At the foot of the hillock is a small grotto, faced with tufa rock-work. Two marble shells are set in front of it, one over the other. A wide stream of water gushes from a pipe hidden at the back of the grotto, and tumbles from the upper shell into the lower; from there it flows into a pool, which has the irregular outline of a tiny natural lake. At its northern end, a jet, two and a half metres high, spouts from a tufa islet and showers the smooth surface of the water with spray.

The Chinese Garden took its final form in 1865 and 1866. It was designed by Edward Hahn, and laid out by Justus Christian Balthasar. The fountain-builder Georg Stockmar constructed for it the Shell Fountain and the round basin with a fountain which stands near the Bath House wing. With the creation of the Chinese Garden, the Monplaisir ensemble was complete.

During the First World War (1914-18) the fountains in the Garden stopped working and were not repaired afterwards. During the war, from 1941 to 1944, the Nazi troops built fortfications here, filling in the fountain pools and destroying the garden's layout. It was only in 1956 that the Chinese Garden was re-created from Hahn's recovered plan and from a contemporary engraving; the pool for the Shell Fountain was dug in its old place, its marble parts were found and restored and the fountain was put back in working order. At the same time, the round basin was adorned with a Tivdia marble vase, made in 1805 from a sketch by Voronikhin for the Lion Cascade (otherwise known as the Hermitage Cascade), and thus the secound fountain was decorated.

The picturesque Chinese Garden is a rare example of Russian mid-nineteenth-century landscaping, and sets off by contrast the strictly formal design of the neighbouring Monplaisir Garden.

View in the Chinese Garden

Northen part of the Chinese Garden
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