Peterhof State Museum Reserve

Peterhof is the monument of world architecture and park art. The museum-reserve located 29 km from the city on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland includes the Palace and Park Ensemble of XVIII-XIX centuries — the former royal countryside residence.

Peterhof is the City of Fountains: it contains 173 fountains and 4 cascades. Each year, up to 3 million people come here to enjoy the splendor of numerous fountains, unique parks and pavilions.

The name Peterhof was first mentioned in 1705. It was a coastal manor, close to which construction of a grand country residence started nine years later. The original plan of the construction belongs to Peter I. After the brilliant victory of Russian troops over the Swedes, security of St. Petersburg both from the land and the sea has been firmly ensured. Since that time, the works on the construction of the Peterhof residence gain immense scope. To the present day, there are preserved autographic drawings of the Emperor with his notes and corrections and other documents confirming that Peter I was not only engaged in the general layout of the Peterhof ensemble but also developed some details of architectural structures and fountains. The works on the creation of a new residence were conducted with amazing rapidity. The opening ceremony of Peterhof took place already in August 1723, and by this time, there was laid the Lower Park, the Sea Canal was dug, a part of fountains functioned, the upper chambers were decorated and the Mon Plaisir and Marly Palaces were built.

According to the plan of Peter I, on the one hand, Peterhof must have been equal in splendor with the most famous royal residences in Europe, and on the other hand — to become a monument of triumphant success of Russia's struggle to access the Baltic Sea. Both were successfully done. There was built the Great Palace on a natural ledge and then rebuilt in the Baroque style by architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the mid 18th century. According to the plan of Peter I, who wanted to decorate the main entrance of the palace with waterfalls, there was constructed the Grand Cascade — a huge cave, the sides of which were richly decorated with a waterfall staircase. This is one of the most spectacular fountains in the world, the compositional center of which is the famous Samson Fountain with a statue of the biblical Samson tearing the lion's mouth. This fountain has become a symbol of the Russian victory over Sweden: the lion was a part of the coat of arms of Sweden, and Peter I was often compared to Samson. The Samson is the highest fountain in Peterhof, the jet of which can rise up to 20 meters high. In 1990, the palaces and parks of Peterhof were included in the list of the world heritage of UNESCO. In 1997, Peterhof was included in the State Code of the most valuable objects of the cultural heritage of Russia.

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