If you are planning to go to St Petersburg, Russia, please include in your itinerary a one-day trip to Royal summer residence Peterhof.
The idea to build a magnificent palace ensemble with fountains belonged to Tsar Peter the Great ( Peter I). You will get an outstanding sightseeing experience and lots of fun in the park, because Tsar Peter the Great liked to make jokes and he created many funny tricks for guests.
I recommend visiting Peterhof when the fountain starts working for the season: usually from the end of April to the middle of October. Peterhof has a beautiful park with lots of fountains and sculptures. You also can see there Royal Church Museum, Treasury Museum, Upper and Lower grottoes of the Grand Cascade and many other gorgeous scenes of Peterhof.
Peterhof is a museum-reserve located in the suburb of St. Petersburg. It was the summer residence of Russian emperors from 1830 to 1918, which was resided mainly with the Royal family and their servants, officers and soldiers of the Royal Life Guards regiments. It is a gorgeous palace with English landscaping park of the 18th-19th centuries.
After the Russian Revolution, the imperial palaces were turned into museums. On May 18, 1918, the first guided tour took place in the magnificent halls of the Grand Palace. During the first summer more than two thousand people visited the museum.
In 1990, the historical and architectural ensemble “Peterhof” was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and in 2008 it was recognized as one of the Seven wonders of Russia.
Grand Peterhof Palace
The palace is the main building of the Peterhof and park ensemble. First, it was a modest Royal palace, built in 1714-1725 but was rebuilt by architect Rastrelli assigning to the magnificent Versailles model during the regime of Empress Elizabeth in 1747-1752.
The gorgeous and elegant Grand Palace holds a major position in the Peterhof ensemble, merging the Upper Garden and the Lower Park into a whole composition. Grand Cascade forms a harmonious complex of alleys, architectural structures and fountains.
The Great Peterhof palace contains 30 lavishly decorated halls with polished marble, painted ceilings and gilded walls. It had been the center of social life. There were festive celebrations, receptions, balls and masquerades. In the court church they got married, baptized children and served prayers to pay tribute to military victories.
During the World War II, the Grand Palace was destroyed and burned down, but it was rebuilt and reopened in May 1964. Today, visitors have an incredible journey through a fascinating palace filled with arts, magnificent sculpture and painting.
The Peterhof Ensemble has an Upper Garden and at Lower Park.
The Lower Park was established on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in French style as the model of the French King Louis XIV in Versailles: the Grand Palace with a cascade, a canal and flower beds, a large greenhouse with an orchard, hotbeds and fish ponds. The Lower Park of Peterhof has more than 150 beautiful fountains and 4 cascades.
Alley of Fountains
This is the “Alley of Fountains.” As a group with the Marine Canal, it is one of the main attractions of Peterhof.
From the very beginning of the construction of the Marine Canal Peter the Great paid a lot of attention to detail and design. The Marine Canal connected the central entrance of the palace ensemble with the Gulf of Finland, which goes to the Baltic Sea and immediately became the main entrance to the territory of the residence.
The guests arrived at Peterhof by ships, after they were transferred to boats and passed through the canal into a special little harbor close to the royal residence.
The water passage to the palace is decorated with colonnades of 22 marble fountains on both sides of the canal.
The Grand cascade is the impressive fountain construction of the Peterhof ensemble and one of the most outstanding creations in the world.
The idea to finalize a main entrance to the Royal palace, with a cascade belonged to Tsar Peter the Great and the grand opening of the fountains took place, in August 1723.
The Grand cascade is the gem of the Peterhof Ensemble. It is simple, but absolutely beautiful: the two massive seven-step staircases are connected by the archways of the Large grotto; the flowing water along the stairs symbolizes the two Russian rivers Neva and Volkhov and flows through the canal into the Gulf of Finland. The complex Grand cascade contains 225 bronze and marble sculptures.
During the World War II, the Grand cascade was turned into ruins. Workers of the museum didn’t have time to move out all sculptures outside of St Peterburg before the German forces begin siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg) and part of them were carefully dug into the ground or hidden in the territory of the park. In 1956, the complex cascade was restored and brought the wonderful ensemble to life.
The Grand Cascade together with the sculptural group of “Samson Breaking the Lion’s Jaws” is a monument to the great Russian victory. It was assembled in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava in 1709. It was the battle of the Northern War between the Russian troops under the command of Peter I troops and the Swedish army of Charles XII.
The lead sculptural composition created by the Italian architect Rastrelli and installed in 1735, was replaced in 1802 with a bronze sculpture.
During the WW II the sculpture “Samson Breaking the Lion’s Jaws” was destroyed. After the liberation of Leningrad (St Petersburg), the monument was rebuilt based on pre-war photographs and images and was installed on a pedestal in 1947. The sculptural composition becoming not only an iconic symbol of victory over the enemy, but also the world-famous visiting card of Peterhof.
The Neptune Fountain is located in the Upper Garden. A bronze figure of the Roman God of the Seas rises on a granite pedestal and surrounded by seahorse riders.
During the World War II, the sculptures were stolen and taken to Germany. Later, at the request of the Soviet government, they were returned and installed in their original place.
In the center of a small garden, across the Greenhouse building, there is a pool, from which the gardeners took water to spray trees, flowers and vegetables. In 1726, the architect Usov established the fountain and decorated it according to the design of Italian architect Rastrelli with the sculptural group “Triton Breaking the Jaws of the Sea Monster.” Triton, the Greek god of the Seas fighting with a Sea Monster.
The fountain was destroyed during the WWII. In 1956, Soviet sculptor-restorer Gurzhiy reproduced a sculptural composition of the 18th century in bronze based on the surviving pre-war pictures and drawings.
Umbrella Trick Fountain
The idea of creating “wet attractions” belonged to Peter I, who always loved such jokes.
The fountain-trick “Umbrella” was created in 1796 by the architect F. Brower. The fountain has the shape of an umbrella with benches for rest under it. As soon as the guests gathered under this roof, from one hundred and sixty-four pipes hidden behind carved ridges, water began to flow creating a dense wall of the waterfall.
How to get to Peterhof:
Price: 900 ₽
Travel time: 35-40 Minutes
The fastest and most exciting way to get to Peterhof from St. Petersburg on your own is to take a ship “Meteor”. The ship arrives at the Lower Park.
Meteors go to Peterhof from the Palace pier located on Palace embankments, which is not far from the Winter Palace and Senate pier on Angliyskaya embankments close to monument of Peter the Great on the horse.
If you have taken the first meteor, you can catch the grand launch of the Grand Cascade, which starts every day at 11:00.
Price: 100 ₽
Travel time: 50 Minutes
This option is the most economical and convenient. Minibuses depart daily from several metro stations:
- From Avtovo metro station, minibuses – K-224, K-300, K-424. Municipal buses: №200, №210
- From “Leninsky Prospekt” metro station – K-103, K-420
- From “Prospect Veterans” metro station– K-343, K-639Б
- From “Baltiyskaya” metro station – 404 .
Minibuses stop right at the entrance to the park.
*Please note that if you plan to get to Peterhof from the Baltiyskaya metro station, you can get stuck in a traffic, because this station is located near the city center.
Guided Bus Tour
If you want to visit Peterhof without hassle, then I recommend using the services of travel agencies and ordering a bus tour to Peterhof. In this case, you will have time to visit not only the palace, but also see the most interesting fountains and pavilions of the Lower Park with an experienced guide.
Tips for travelers:
- When going to Peterhof, I recommend taking an umbrella, cardigan and comfortable shoes. Weather changes very fast and you will want to feel warm and comfortable.
- Bring a change of clothes for children and a little towel. Even in the sunny day, you can get wet, because the fountains-tricks turn on water unexpectedly.
- Bring water and snacks with you. It will be hard to buy food in the park, and prices might be quite high.
- If you are limited in time, begin your tour from the Lower Park. The main sights and fountains are concentrated there. Then visit the Grand Palace and in the remaining time you can go to see the Upper Garden, which is free to enter.
- To enter the Lower Park, you will need to buy a ticket, but if you leave the park, you will need to buy another ticket to re-enter.
- To get into it Grand Palace, you will first need to buy a ticket to the Lower park than a ticket to the Grand Palace.
- You will need at least 5-6 hours to visit Peterhof.
Enjoy the trip !
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