Great damage was caused to the palace by bombardment during the Great Patriotic War, but it was not completely destroyed. In 1944 the palace was mined; the mines were detected and removed in 1948. Although Fascist mines of great destructive power had exploded in the immediate vicinity of the building, the palace survived.
Its incredible durability gave rise to a myth that "the Russian Leonardo", as Lvov was called, had created and kept secret from his successors a recipe for a miraculous mortar which transformed earth into stone.
Restoration work was begun in 1978 with excavation of the site of the Priory. A thorough chemical analysis of all the building materials used was carried out, under the auspices of the City of St. Petersburg's Committee for state inspection, utilisation and preservation of historical and cultural monuments.
The foundations and the tower were strengthened, the chapel and the second-floor chambers were restored, the lost ceilings were re-created according to models, the roofs were covered with sheet iron. In the restoration work many special techniques were used - techniques at times devised in the course of the work by Gatchina craftsmen. Moreover, the restoration of the palace stonework was carried out with reference to construction techniques of the 18th century.
"We can be proud of everything: from the cellars, which were cleaned and restored, to the spire, likewise made with our own hands, enlisting the services of masters from the Gatchina factories," says E. V. Krasnov. "The building stands in beauty and will continue to stand. And this is, I believe, a source of pride not only for myself, but for all the people of Gatchina."
Picturies: Sergey Melnikov