Peterhof is a magnificent complex of palaces, gardens, fountains, waterfalls and water features designed by Peter I who dreamed of an imperial residence outside St. Petersburg to be accessed by sea, like the Palace of Versailles.
The Grand Palace opened in 1723 and expanded in 1750 by the architect of court Bartolomeo Rastrelli during the reign of Elizabeth was, in the summer, the center of the empire of the czars’ life.
The building is majestic but sober and elegant. The interior, however, is much more rich and sumptuous: gold decoration, frescoed ceilings, porcelain, silks, and mirrors. Among the 27 rooms, one more beautiful than the other (The Golden Ballroom and the turquoise Throne Room are spectacular), there is also of the Oak Studio hosting some items that belonged to Peter the Great.
In the “Russian Versailles” there are also other buildings. On the shores of the Gulf of Finland is Monplaisir, the small but very nice building in the Dutch colonial style, the favorite residence of Peter I, in whom received friends and advisers. Simplicity and harmony characterize the Château de Marly, a charming Baroque palace surrounded by the waters of a pond, built by Peter as a personal sanctuary.
Near the sea is the Hermitage, the lovely pink two-story building designed by Peter the Great as a dining room for his closest collaborators. The main attraction of Peterhof is, however, its lush park with 150 fountains and 4 cascades fed by a source located 22 km away thanks to a complex hydraulic system designed by the Russian engineer Tuvolkov (1720). The most famous waterfall is the Great Waterfall, just in front of the Palace, that among gilded statues (255) and water jets (138 to be precise) is the origin of the maritime channel 400 m long connecting the palace to the sea.
The main element of the spectacular composition is the “Fountain of Samson fighting with the lion” from whose mouth gets up a jet of water 21 m high, allegory of the Russian victory (Samson) on Swedes (lion) in Poltava in 1709.
In Peterhof, the official opening of the fountains (end of May) is a real party with music, fireworks, and performances.
We suggest, therefore, to visit the splendid suburban summer estate to better enjoy the spectacular appearance of this place.
Opening hours: daily (10.30 AM – 06.00 PM)
Admission: free to the park, at charge for the single buildings. online ticket
How to reach: in summer the best way is the boat from the wharf in front of the Winter Palace; or by bus 200, 210 from Metro Station Avtovo (M1)
Address: Razvodnaya Ulitsa, Petergof, Sankt-Peterburg