The Grotto was built on the banks of the Fontanka – the first garden pavilion of its kind in Russia (1714-1725, architects Andreas Schluter, Georg Johann Mattarnovi, Nicolo Michetti, Mikhail Zemtsov). Three of its halls were decorated with tufa and tropical sea shells. Marble sculptural groups and busts adorned the entrance and interiors.

In the central hall there was a gilded lead statue of Neptune, personifying the main achievement of Peter I – Russia’s access to the sea.

In the Grotto, an organ and a mechanical nightingale were “participants” in a skillful “water venture”. Under the influence of water pressure, the organ began to play, and the nightingale began to sing.

Now, on the site of the dilapidated Grotto, there is a Coffee House, created by the architect K. I. Rossi in 1826 by order of Nicholas I.