The Russian colony was laid out in 1826 – 1827 at Frederick William II’s request in commemoration of his deceased friend Czar Alexander I. It consists of twelve small farmsteads altogether and a overseer’s house with a hippodrome-shaped design plan, as well as a chapel on the fitting chapel hill and the house of the chapel conservator, which was also referred to as a royal cottage because the king had a tea room there. The village Glasovo, created beginning in 1815 in park Pavlovsk by Czar Alexander I, served as a model for the unparalleled architectural form of the farmsteads. The king called on Captain Snethlage, Commander of the Guard-Pioneer-Brigade, for the construction of the buildings and on garden director Peter Joseph Lenné for drawing up the plans for the entire site. Colonel of Roeder had the total management of the venture.
In the period from February 14-27, 1826 the plan was created, the king himself having been decisively involved. There are two types of buildings for the farmsteads. The bigger group includes eight farmsteads, each with a standing gable, biaxial, single-floored house parallel to a farm and stable building connected by a covered gateway. The smaller group includes four farmsteads, which are two-story and three-axle. In order to imitate cabin construction of the houses, round-plank -like-boards were nailed on the half-timber construction. The front ends of the gables are tooled with many decorative elements.
In the garden planned by Lenné were hundreds of fruit varieties, grown as a commodity but also intended to be appreciated and thus, at the same time, to showcase the new agricultural policies of Frederick William III, which as part of the Stein-Hardenberg-Reforms brought with them basic changes in property law, technical and programm aspects.
In the past, colony lanes were again replanted according to Lenné’s plans and the historic fruit plantings were completed. Potsdam collected around 600 different historic fruit varieties to be replanted. Examples of the fruit varieties span the time from 1272 to the last decades of the 19th century.
The Alexander-Newski-Chapel is located next to the royal cottage on Chapel Hill. It was finished in 1829 according to the plans of Russian architect Wassilij Petrovich Strassov with some changes by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Since 1990 it has been a component of Potsdam’s World Heritage.