One of the most picturesque buildings in the gardens at the Catherine Palace is the Hermitage Pavilion. It was built at the same time as the palace and is beautifully situated in a forest clearing. The Hermitage Pavilion proved to be a favourite place for the Tsaritsa Elizabeth and her guests. She particularly liked to show it off to foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries.
The central hall of the Hermitage was the object of particular fascination for visitors. It contained a table large enough to seat up to 35 guests. What was unique about the dining room table was that it was equipped with special mechanisms allowing the guests to dine without the presence of servants. In the lower basement, the servants would prepare the table, hoist it to the floor above where waiting guests would sit down to dinner. A diner only needed only to write the name of the dish he desired on a slate and pull the bell next to it. A short time later the chosen dish would appear at the table. Once the meal was over, the table was lowered into the floor, the chairs removed, and the dining room opened into a ballroom.
As you can see in the HDR-picture, craftsmen are laying their final hand on an ongoing renovation. Next day the Hermitage Pavilion was reopened for the public after this renovation.