Peterhof, a place of amazing beauty, the favorite residence of Russian emperors and empresses in Saint Petersburg... The well-known artist and art historian Alexander Benois wrote at the beginning of the 20th century: “Among the fairy-tale palaces of Versailles, Aranjuez, Caserta, Schonbrunn and Potsdam Peterhof hold a very special place… Peterhof arose out of the sea foam, as it were, brought to life by the command of a mighty sea ruler… The fountains at Versailles are an elegant decoration which could be done without… The fountains at Peterhof are not an addition, but the main thing. They are the symbolical expression of a sea realm”.
Endless play of countless fountains
Built on the sea shore, Peterhof impresses by the golden radiance of the long palace and endless play of it countless fountains – in silent rows like loyal guards and servants, luscious as bunches of exotic flowers or spreading trees, playfully ready to squirt the startled visitor unexpectedly, or majestic as the columns of a church
Favorite residence of the Russian royal family in the 18th century
Created by Johann Mattarnovi, Jean-Baptiste Le Blond and Niccolo Michetti, Peterhof was the favorite residence of the Russian royal family in the 18th century. Empress Anne liked shooting games here. She was the first to extend the Great Palace by adding single-story galleries. Catherine was also very fond of Peterhof. She rebuilt and altered a great deal in Rastrelli’s baroque palace. During the Second World War the palace and park and fountains were reduced to ruins. It took several decades to restore the ensemble. Today visitors to Peterhof can see the park and palace as they looked at the end of the 18th century.
Opened to the public on 15 August, 1723The formal opening of Peterhof took place on 15 August, 1723. By then some of the fountains were already working, the Upper Chambers, the Montplaisir Palace and the Chateau de Marly had been built, and the Hermitage Pavilion nearly completed. With the death of Peter the Great in 1725, followed by that of his wife Catherine I in 1727, building in Peterhof ceased. The court moved back to Moscow, and the Imperial residence fell into neglect. The buildings became dilapidated, the paths overgrown, and only when Peter’s niece Anne came to power in 1739 did Peterhof come to life again: new fountains were built and those begun during Peter’s lifetime were completed.
Peter’s daughter ElizabethThe real flowering of Peterhof is associated with Peter’s daughter Elizabeth who ruled from 1741 to 1761. Between the mid-forties and mid-fifties the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli turned the Upper Chambers into the sumptuous Great Palace, built the Catherine Wing of Montplaisir and designed some new fountains.
Read here for a detailed tour around Peterhof, its majestic palaces and breathtaking fountains...