Peterhof

Location of the Summer Palace

 
Petrodvorets is situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, 29 km from Saint Petersburg. Its parks occupy a territory of about 1000 ha. In 1714 on a high littoral terrace a palace was founded (known as upper halls) and behind the palace the Upper Garden was laid out. Peterhof is one of the oldest summer residences in the vicinity of St.Petersburg. Peterhof means "Peter's Court".
It was founded in 1710, when the Peter and Paul Fortress lost its military significance, and Peter the Great started to build another fortress on Kotlin Island to protect St. Petersburg.

The Tsar visited the island often to observe the construction. He made most of his journeys by boat. On the occasions when the weather was stormy or rainy, he waited for fair weather in a small wooden building on a raised site overlooking the Gulf of Finland. While the Northern War was still in progress, Peter the Great didn't show a lot of interest in the ornamentation of the place. However, after important victories near Poltava he wanted something grander. He commissioned a, 'Versailles by the Sea' palace style. By the end of his reign the wooden palace was altered by Le Blond, becoming known as the "Great Palace". The Monplaisir Palace was built on the sea front. The Upper Park and the Lower Park were laid out. First 50 fountains began working in 1721. Empress Elizabeth Petrovna took an interest in Peterhof. During her reign the Great Palace was enlarged by Rastrelli, more fountains were added and under Nicholas 1st Peterhof was further developed.

At that same time the construction of fountain cascades and sea channels began. There is a unique system of water-supply to the fountains which is based on the principle of communicating vessels.

The fountains are connected by means of a water-main with springs welling out in the Ropshinsky Heights. It was also the time when the park later named as, 'Lower' was established. In the middle of the 18th century the palace became the project of the architect Rastrelli. Located on the steep slope in front of the palace the Grand Cascade of fountains embellished with bronze sculptures and bas-reliefs dedicated to Russia's victories in the Northern war. It consists of 64 fountains. The bronze gilded sculptures are designed by, Kozlovsky, Shoubin, Shchedrin and Martos. In the centre of the cascade there is the famous
sculptural group "Samson tearing the lion's jaws", symbolizing the victory of Russia over Sweden. At the base of the cascade there are the fountains "Volkhov" and "Neva".
In the lower park the Marli Palace, the Hermitage and the Monplaisir Palace were constructed. The Monplaisir became the first picture gallery in Russia which contained a large collection of paintings from Dutch and Flemish masters. In front of the palace are a garden with a fountain, a parterre and several sculptures.

The lower park was planned so that every palace had its portion of fountains : the Grand Cascade corresponds to the Grand Peterhof Palace, the Cascade of Dragons corresponds to the Monplaisir, the Cascade of Lions - to the Hermitage, the Golden Mountain cascade
 - to the Marli Palace. 

There are also two marble fountains in the square which bear a resemblance to the fountain in front of the St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, hence their name, the "Roman" fountains. 

 
The Marli Palace is situated on the shore of a pond and opposite it there is the "Golden Mountain" cascade, the steps of which are faced with marble and gilded copper panels. The marble statues decorating the cascade are designed from the ancient original sculptures or brought in from Italy in 1870. In the park the alleys are also adorned with fountains.

Next to the Lower Park there is the Alexandria Park, the tsars residence during the 19th to 20th centuries. The Alexandria is located in the littoral zone and the upper part of the coastal ledge. There are hundred-year-old oaks, lindens, maples, and poplars as well as trees from Siberia, Kirghizia, the Far East and Europe.