Peterhof Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site outside Saint Petersburg, built by Peter the Great. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Russian Versailles”, thanks to the inspiration. It is a series of palaces set amongst magnificent gardens beside the Gulf of Finland seafront.
This expansive entrance leads to the Grand Palace, the largest of the palace buildings.
We didn’t go inside, but instead around the back to the palace’s main attraction; The Grand Cascade.
From the palace’s rear balcony, one gets sweeping views over the Lower Gardens and the Sea Channel, which (surprise surprise) leads directly north to the sea. A terraced grotto with gold statues overlook Samson Fountain, a spectacle in itself.
The fountain was built in the 1730s, depicting Samson tearing open the jaws of a lion, to represent Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Why, you may ask? The lion is an element of the Swedish coat of arms, and one of the great victories of the war was won on St. Samson’s Day. It shoots a fountain of water 20m sky high.
In fact, the Lower Gardens are filled with many fountains and pools of water. Impressively, they all operate without the use of pumps. There is a natural spring in the Upper Gardens that creates enough gravity pressure to drive the fountains, due to the land sloping down to the sea, which is equally difficult to notice due to the sheer scale of the whole place.
It is surprising just how vast the Lower Gardens area is. It stretches out east and west from the central Sea Channel, with multiple paths to wander, which intersect at more fountains and ponds. Every angle is different, providing many options for peaceful strolling.
Some parts are manicured, while others are left more natural. You can imagine how amazing this would have been back in the day too. The perfect summer retreat!
On the seafront is the Hermitage Pavilion, a compact little palace building with its own balcony. A little seaside escape in itself!
Water features dominate the gardens. One of the largest is Marly Pool; home to many ducks and a great reflection. The fog suddenly rolled in from the sea once we found it.
Visited 11th September 2014.