The Temple of Friendship Pavilion, a masterpiece of classical park architecture was created by Charles Cameron in 1782 and remains the dominant feature of the Slavyanka River Valley
Built by Cameron on an island formed in the bend of the Slavyanka river, it is an integral part of the landscape that creates the harmony of architecture and nature. This is one of the first buildings by Cameron, designed by him shortly after his arrival in Russia.
The Pavilion was laid down in summer 1780, in the presence of Emperor Joseph II, who wrote the following to his mother, Empress Maria Theresa: “After the lunch at the country house of the Grand Duke, or rather the Grand Duchess, they forced me to participate in the laying of the Temple dedicated to the Friendship. I just couldn't refuse. All of this was accompanied by many courtesies and assurances of eternal friendship; Panin, Potemkin and some other persons were present.”
The construction took approximately two years. During her foreign travel, Maria Feodorovna was keenly interested in the progress of work in her correspondence with Küchelbecker. The pavilion was dedicated to Catherine II. An inscription was made over the doors with bronze gilded letters: “Dedicated our love, respect, and gratitude”. This inscription was lost after the Revolution, then recreated during the 2008 pavilion restoration works. The statue of Catherine II was installed in the pavilion, opposite to the entrance. Initially, she was personified as Minerva, and, since 1792, as Ceres, by Antoine-Jacques-Jean-Dominique Rachette, in plaster (lost).
Following the canons of the ancient art and paying tribute to the fashion for such allegorical constructions, Cameron constructed the Temple of Friendship in the form of a rotunda surrounded by a ring of sixteen fluted Doric columns. The entire structure is covered by a flat dome with a roof lantern. The outer walls of the temple cella carry bas-relief medallions by Rachette, in the gaps between the columns. Four allegorical plots dedicated to the Catherine II are repeated on these medallions. The first depicts the allegory of Generosity, the second depicts Miverva Victoria; the third depicts the presentation of the grant for Pavlovsk lands, and the fourth depicts the allegory of Justice. A stucco frieze runs above the columns, all-round, styled after Greek triglyph and metope frieze, alternating the images of dolphins as the symbols of friendship with wreaths comprising of roses as the symbols of love and myrtle with olives as the symbols of glory and honor.
A stucco frieze runs over the top perimeter of the inside walls as well, alternating dry and flowering branches as the symbols of dying and reviving.
The Temple of Friendship was intended for lunches and small concerts. A Kitchen Ruin (lost) was constructed to serve lunches to the pavilion near it, at the Slavyanka river bank.