The hotel “Imeniye Altun” is located on the grounds of the estate park allegedly founded by Ivan Lvov (the Great) in the late 18th century, and completed in the early 20th century when the new manor house was built where the old wooden structure had burned down in 1889. The new house — 'the Lvov palace' — of course introduced certain changes into the park's general design, making it the dominating structure. The maps from the 18th century showed the only way to the Holy Mountains (now known as Pushkinskiye Gory) from Saint Petersburg was through Novorzhev and the Altun Estate. This means that each time travelers had to pass through Altun.
The park of the Altun Estate covers 25 ha occupying the entire southwestern shore of the round lake of the same name, where many springs flow into as well. This natural billowy plain was transformed into a landscape park by an unknown landscape designer.
The park in Altun is divided in two by an irregular network of alleys, and the entrance to the residence is an old, wide and smooth gravel road where Big Oaks alley runs along the right side and Small Oaks alley runs to the left at a right angle to the main road. At the end of the road is yet another fork: one branch, the exit, leads guests through an old, wide avenue of linden trees that divides the local cemetery in half, and the other is a stone-block path running down to the lake past the distillery. Two smaller paths branch out from Big Oak alley like rays of sunlight, one leading to the temporary residence on the bank of the pond, and the other forming the main entry to the new mansion house, which is believed to have been built in 1907–1911.
Romantic image of the country estate with elements of the European castle architecture became a trend in Russian residential architecture in the latter half of the 19th century. Before the Lvovs (the Altun Estate's owners) ever acted on a romantic vision for their mansion house, the residence had been alive and developing, its inelaborate buildings being used for household needs, and the well-manicured park with scattered trees bursting forth with growth, a true soft spot and undeniable source of pride for its owners. The researcher of the Natural and Cultural Center of the State Museum Reserve of Alexander Pushkin and historian V. Nikiforov quotes N. Kireeva, "No one dared to walk around the park, and each tree was taken care of specially."
The palace, with its splendid front door welcoming visitors arriving from the west along the main alley, offered an appearance no less magnificent no matter where one stood. For example, the descent to the lake was richly designed with wide and low steps decorated with flowerpots. The mansion house's very construction introduced alterations to the park's master plan: now the area around the manorial palace was of a more regular and somewhat more "French" character, which did not have any general affect on the overall landscape of the ancient park. The details of the design have since been lost to time, but it can be assumed that the expert utilization of the area's unique features and landscape created an organic harmony between the residential buildings of different times and architectural styles with the natural surroundings.
The old park is still where it used to be, but the planted area has diminished along with its previous manorial borders: in the USSR newer buildings were erected on the residence's territory, including a two-story brick apartment building in the center of the park, personal plots and residencies for collective farmers. Thus, a portion of the park's plants and numerous alleyways ended up in the gardens of fellow Russian countrymen... The park and the residential territory eventually turned into overgrown wastelands. This mismanagement led to the dismantlement of the residential buildings to be used for building materials, and acts of vandalism. However, the area of the park that was left uncultivated by the locals still looks amazing and can shed light on the structure of the Altun manorial park, its stand composition and landscape solutions.
Noble flora prevails here, including oaks, limes, maples and snap willows. There are also elm, ash and pine trees (130 and 160–180 years old), as well as common larches or European larches, Siberian stone pines or Siberian cedars, and Macedonian or Balkan pines that can only rarely be found in Pskov oblast.
There are only two remained artificial reservoirs: a round one with an islet located in a now-remote part of the park behind the ruins of the cattle yard, while the shape of the other one looks like the American continent wearing a small cape. The only cedar surviving in the park is still growing on that cape. The bank commands a fine panorama of the still waters of the shapely pond, and distant perspectives are oriented towards the water's surface as well, as the pond is located on the lake's shore. The park visually continued into natural landscapes as if it has no true boundaries.
Visitors can still find a stone-block path running to the huge arched building of the former alcohol cellar (built in the boulder-and-brick style). Shipment vehicles (for products taken by train to Moscow) might have required special engineering efforts to strengthen the approach to the slope.
The Altun Estate is a collection of country architectural art staying partly true to the design of its master plan, along with various intentionally ruined household outbuildings; it is a vivid artistic image and an unbreakable bond with nature. The part of the estate's master plan detailing its historical network of roads and pathways was either strayed from or abandoned completely over the years of decline and disarray. Planted vegetation is not maintained properly. Young birches and alders, self-seeding and the growth of underbrush all throughout the park has damaged and distorted the original appearance of the estate. The park had to be reconstructed and reclaimed, the reservoir had to be cleaned, self-seeded and unwanted plants had to be eradicated, the network of roads and paths had to be repaired, old trees needed to be treated, and dangerous trees felled.
In 2008, an overhaul began at the Altun Estate that extended to the jungles overgrowing the park. After a year of painstaking work, the structure of the Altun park was more or less visible, especially what had been done to it just during that first year. The impenetrable jungle was starting to show itself as a magnificent park. The lake horizon can be seen from any point, and the graphic trunks of the strong oaks, lindens and larches form a historical patterning on the bright sky and lake surface. The trees displayed their wounds trustingly for experts to examine, diagnose and treat them.
The master plan of the Altun Estate park:
It was pure luck that this old park was cared about so deeply by such an experienced and competent team with an ambitious yet reachable goal — restore the best life-affirming practices of the Russian nobility, and return the integrity, harmony and beauty this wonderful park brims with.
In July 2011, Altun park found itself in the hands of the experts of a production cooperative with quite the telling name: "Vozrozhdenie" ("Restoration"): a team of experienced wood scientists specializing in the ancient and mighty trees of estate parks. Climbers and steeplejacks specializing in plants protection are now carrying out the following long-overdue tree care procedures: beheading, treating injuries, felling dangerous trees, and diagnosing the condition of wood.
Among this cooperative's loyal customers are both museum reserves and world famous palace and estate parks, such as Petergof, Pavlovsk, Oranienbaum, Gatchina, Tsarskoye Selo, Letniy Sad and Peter I palace, the State Russian Museum, the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg Museum of History (the Peter and Paul Fortress), the Museum of City Sculpture, Mon Repos, Rozhdestveno, Maryino, Gorki, Ostafievo, Melikhovo, Abramtsevo, Bolshie Vyazemy, Zakharovo, Morozovka, Korallovo, Shakhmatovo, Mikhailovskoe, the Svyatogorsk Monastery, Spasskoye-Lutovinovo, the Serafimo-Diveevsky Monastery, and Ovstug.
The oaks of the Altun Estate's central alley will continue to be treated till the late August. The restored, graphic and healthy park will welcome its first visitors by the time the hotel opens its doors.