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Peterhof Great Cascade

Great Cascade Samson Fountain

Peterhof Grand Palace

Grand Palace and Marine Canal to Gulf of Finland

Great Cascade in Peterhof-Upper Park

Grand Cascade Western Wallfall Steps

Grand Cascade Western Wallfall Steps
Chessboard or Dragon Hill Cascade-1739

Dragon Hill Cascade

Dragon Cascade


view close up
Pyramid Fountain

Roman Fountain- 1763

Monplaisir Palace Gardens

Sun Fountain-1724

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

The Neptune Fountain-1799

Marly Palace-1723

Peterhof Wedding

Peterhof Bride

Life Imitates Art

St. Petersburg and Peterhof Photos


This gallery features images of Peterhof.

Peterhof is on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, about 39 miles west of St. Petersburg.

The Grand Palace at Peterhof was designed to be the centerpiece of Peter the Great's "Russian Versaille". Around 1720, the Tsar gave up on attempts to establish his court at Strelna, mainly because the boggy ground proved entirely unsuitable for the canals and fountains that he envisioned. Moving his attentions further east to Peterhof, the Tsar began to draw up his own plans for the grounds and palace. Work had already begun on a modest palace, designed by Jean-Baptiste Le Blond, in 1714, and that building was completed in 1721.

The fountains of Peterhof are one of Russia's most famous tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors every year. Fountains were intrinsic to Peter the Great's original plans for Peterhof - it was the impossibility of engineering sufficiently powerful jets of water that prompted him to move his attentions from the Strelna site to Peterhof - and subsequent generations competed with their predecessors to add grander and ever more ingenious water features to the parkland surrounding the Grand Palace.

The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Great Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations. At the centre stands Rastrelli's spectacular statue of Samson wrestling the jaws of a lion. The vista of the Great Cascade with the Grand Palace behind it, the first sight to great visitors who arrive in Peterhof by sea, is truly breathtaking. The Grotto behind the Grand Cascade, which was once used for small parties, contains the enormous pipes, originally wooden, that feed the fountains.

Elsewhere in the park, the range and diversity of fountains is astounding, from further monumental ensembles like the Chess Cascade and the Pyramid Fountain, to the ever-popular Joke Fountains, including one which sprays unwary passers-by who step on a particular paving stone. Neptune Fountain was built in Nuremberg, Germany in 1658 and sold to the Peterhof in 1782.

Located in the western half of the Lower Park, the Marly Palace is a charming baroque mansion that was built on the orders of Peter the Great as an intimate retreat in the grounds of the Grand Palace. Peter's inspiration was the royal hunting lodge at Marly Le Roi, just outside Paris. Louis XIV had commissioned his residence there as a private, peaceful alternative to Versailles. Peter visited Marly Le Roi during his visit to France in 1717, and, when creating the "Russian Versailles" at Peterhof, he decided to have his own personal sanctuary built in the grounds. The building has a pleasantly harmonious appearance - a simple, square baroque mansion with an air of serenity and comfort, accentuated by its multiple reflections in the still waters of the fishponds. Peter had only two years to enjoy his retreat before his death. Marly was no longer used as a residence and, by the mid-18th century, it had become a store for Peter's personal effects, including his wardrobe, official gifts, and various pieces of furniture and art. Many items from this collection are still on display in Marly today.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, located in the Grand Palace at Peterhof was built between 1747-51 by the Italian architect Bartoloemo Rastrelli. The Empress Elizabeth herself laid the first stone on May 30, 1747. The paintings were made by craftsmen under the guidance of the court painter Elizabeth Ivan Vishnyakova. During the reign of the Romanov dynasty, it was the court church where the weddings and baptisms of members of the Russian Imperial family took place. This included the christening of the Tsarevich Alexei Nikolayevich, the only son of Emperor Nicholas II in 1904. The church was restored over a decade and reopened in 2011.

The Nazis occupied Peterhof for three years during World War Two. They burned the Grand Palace and the Roman Columns to the ground. Peterhof was rebuilt after the war to restoring it to the past.

Some useful travel resources are:
Peterhof Palace and Fountains

Visit Peterhof