from his travels around Europe to make Gatchina an exemplary town and residence. During the 1790s, Paul expanded and rebuilt much of the palace, and renovated palatial interiors in the sumptuousNeoclassical 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 November 1796, following the death of his mother,Catherine the Great, Paul became Emperor Paul I of Russia, and granted Gatchina the status of the Imperial City - official residence of the Russian Emperors.
A remarkable monument of Paul's reign is 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 dated August 23, 1799.
After Paul's death the grand palace and park were owned by his widow, Maria Feodorovna, from 1801 to 1828. Then Emperor Nicholas I was the owner from 1828 to 1855. He made the most significant expansion of the palaces and parks, adding the Arsenal Halls to the main palace. The Arsenal Halls served as the summer residence of Tsar Nicholas I and his court. In 1851, Tsar Nicholas I opened the monument to his grandfather, Paul I, in front of the Gatchina Palace. In 1854 the railroad between St. Petersburg and Gatchina was opened. At that time the city of Gatchina's territory was expanded by incorporation of several villages and vicinity.
Alexander II of Russia used Gatchina Palace as his second residence. He built a hunting village and other additions for his Imperial Hunting Crew, and turned the areas south of Gatchina into his retreat, where the Tsar and his guests could indulge in living country-style among unspoiled wilderness and woods of north-western Russia. Alexander II made updates and renovations in the Main Gatchina Palace.
Alexander III of Russia made Gatchina his prime