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Peterhof is the palace of the sea god. Here the fountains are not mere accessories: they are the essence of the place. They are the symbolic expression of the sea's dominion, the mist that rises from the waves as they surge against its shores.

A.N. Benois

Peterhof is a jewel of the Russian art, a town of parks, palaces, and fountains. In the past it used to be an exquisite summer residence of Russian tsars. Verkhniy (Upper) Garden and Nizhniy (Lower) Park, genuine masterpieces of landscape design, number over 150 fountains, 5 monumental cascades. The Lviniy (Lion's) Cascading Fountain, the second as of its size, was launched again after 60 void years. On the territory of the reserve, there are 10 working museums: the Grand Palace, Monplaisir, Catherine's Block, Marii, Hermitage, the church of St.Alexander Nevsky (Gothic Capella), the Benois family museum, Cottage, the Bath Block including Tafeldecker and Kaffeeschenk Rooms and The Kitchen, and the Museum of Collectors.
Open : 10:30 - 17:00
Fountains work: 11:00 - 17:00
Closed on MON and on the last TUE of every month.

Every year more than three million of people become the guests of the capital of fountains. The parks of Peterhof, created in 19th century, represents a bright sample of an interesting stage in development of Russian architecture and landscape art. Famous all over the world palace and park ensemble of Petrodvorets (until 1944 - Peterhof) situated in 29 km from Saint-Petersburg - is one of the greatest achievements of Russian national culture, a brilliant example of organic synthesis of architecture and sculpture, garden and park and engineering art. The ensemble erected in the early 18th century on the bank of Gulf of Finland is an original monument in the honor of victory in the North War and coming of Russia to the Baltic Sea. The idea of creating of the ensemble, the basic planning design, the projects of art decoration belonged to Peter I.
The constructing of Summer Parade residence starts in1714, and its ceremonial opening was held on 15 August 1723. By that time almost all elements of composition of the High garden and the Cow park were set up; The Upper Chamber (the Big Palace), the Big Cascade, Monplezir palace were built. For providing water for the Big Cascade, in 1720-1721 by the project of Russian engineer-hydraulic V. Tuvolkov a special water-pipe with ponds-reservoir was built. The main feature of the Peterhof water system is the absence of any water-towers and pumps: the difference of levels of ponds and fountains is used there.
The Peterhof building continued about two centuries, it grew bigger, got decorated by new works of famous sculptors. The creation of this grand complex was made by the labor of thousands "Workers", serfs, soldiers masters from all Russia, talanted marble cutters and smelters, parquet floor layers, gilders carvers and painters. Since 1750's around the Peter's parks a complex of Tsar and Grand Duke residences was formed: the Own Dasha, the English park, Alexandria, Znamenka. After the Great October Socialistic Revolution the art monuments of Peterhof became a national property and were taken under the State protection. The palaces turned into the historical and art museums opened their doors for people. The first excursion of workers was held in the Big Peterhof palace on 18 May of 1918. During the Soviet regime the palaces - museums and parks of Peterhof became the greatest cultural centre of the city.
The Great Patriotic War brought a lot of difficulties to the Peterhof ensemble. The coming of Fascist army made the museum values to be evacuated and the sculptures to be dug into the ground. But all masterpieces could not be saved: the Fascists went into the Peterhof on 23 September 1941.
Almost two and a half years the Fascists were in Peterhof. They ruined the Big Palace, the Big Cascade, the English palace. Marble, Monplezir and the Hermitage were damaged. Thousands of trees were cut down, the hydro-technical mechanisms were blown up, some monumental bronze sculptures of the Big Cascade were stolen, thousands of masterpieces were destroyed.
After the releasing of Peterhof in 1944 the palace and park ensemble as a cultural complex did not exist. The restorers faced the difficult task - to revive the greatest monument of Russian national culture. The celebrative opening of the "Samson" fountain was held on 14 September 1947. By the building of the Big Palace was reconstructed, the project was designed by the architects V.Savskov and E.Kazanskaya. The creative work of talanted restores brought the result - Petrodvorets was revived. In the Low park and the Upper garden 172 fountains, 3 Cascades, 15 monumental statues, more than 330 decorative details of bronze and lead were restored.
The museum the Big palace, Monplezir, pavilion the Hermitage, and a Cottage palace in the Alexandria Park were opened for visiting.
The revived by Soviet people palace and park ensemble of Petrodvorets is a symbol of history of humanism over vandalism, the eternal monument to the heroes of Russia. For its big contribution into the restoration and development of the palaces - museums and parks and in connection of 250 year Jubilee of the palace and park ensemble the town Petrodvorets was awarded by the orden "The Sign of Perspect" by the Decree of Presidium of Supreme Soviet of the USSR on 26 November 1973.

The Low Park
Like all regular parks, the Low Park of Petrodvorets has a symmetrical planning. The axis of symmetry in the Low Park is a Marine Canal with the alley of 22 fountains devived the park into West and East parts. Each big fountain and construction in the West part: the Cascade "the Chess Mountain" and the cascade "the Golden Mountain", the palace Monplezir and the pavilion "The Hermitage", the fountain "Adam" and the fountain "Eva". A system of the alleys, radiated from the fountains "Adam" and "Eva" to different parts of the park to the main architectural constructions and fountains, creates two stars. He most interesting constructions of the East part of the park - the favorite palace of the Peter I - Monplezir and the cascade "The chess Mountain: Firstly the cascade, that building was started in 1721, was intended to decorate like ruins of Sweden castle; it intended its first name "Ruined". In the late 30's of the 18th century it was rebuilt. There appeared three painted wooden dragons made by the carver K.Osner, and the cascade got the name "The Dragon Mountain", and a big later, when pouring slopes were painted with black and white squares - it got the name "The Chess Mountain" - the rarest collection of a decorative park sculpture of 18th century. The palace of Peter I "Monplezir" (My pleasure") - is the earliest palace building on the territory of the Low Park. A tiny palace was built in 1714-1723 by the architects I.Bronstein, G.B.Lebbon, N.Miketti. In Monplezir - the first picture gallery in Russia - there is a big collection of pictures of Dutch, Flemish and Italian artists of 17-18th centuries. From the West the Monplezir palace is completed by the Ekaterina palace, built in 1747-1755 by the architect F.B.Rastrelli. In 1785-1786 G.Quarneghi created new decorations of the interiors, and in 1810 many rooms of the wing were designed n the Empire style. In 1986 8 interiors of the wing destroyed by the Fascists during the Great Patriotic War were restored. Decorative bas-reliefs, modeling, painting in grizail technique, designed by D.B.Scotti, marble fire-place, landscape tiles, mirrors in golden frames, lamps, lamp-brackets give the art decoration of the interiors of the wing variety and solemnity. The Ekaterina wing is the sixth restored historical and art museum of the State National palace and park reserve in Retrodvorets. In its exposition there is Russian and French art Bronze models, wares of porcelain and crystal, furniture made by design of the architects Sh.Persie, P.Fonten, K.Rossi and A.Voronikhin, art works. The famous Guriev dinner service - the greatest masterpiece of Russian Chine foremen of the first quarter of 19th century - is of great interest. An interesting collection of paintings is presented in the Hermitage pavilion ("The Shelter of the Solitude"), built in 1721- 1725 by the architect I.Brownstein on the gulf bank in Western part of the Park.
The Marli palace and the "Golden mountain" Cascade are the central constructions of the West region. Their building was started by Peter I after visiting the residence of the French Kings near Paris.
Marli- le - Rua
The cascade building by the design of the architect N.Miketti was started in 1721 and finished in 1726. In 1732 M.Zemtsov added it by Marble Golden lead statues, and the ledges of cascade steps were faced by copper golden sheets, that gave it the name "The Golden Mountain". Some statues from the sculpture presented there are dated by 18th century, the main part was brought from Italy in 19th century. The Marli palace was built in 1720-1723 by the architect I.Bronstein. In the second part of 18th century the palace was turned into the memorial palace. There were many personal possessions of Peter I. In May 1982 after finishing the restoration the historical and art museum presented the art culture of Russia of the first half of 18th century was opened. From 311 objects of the pre-war layout only 163 ones were managed to evacuate. Nowadays the lost museum exhibits are changed into the analogue objects.

The Big Palace
The Big Palace stretched in facade on almost 300 meters is the architectural dominant of the central part of the Peterhof ensemble. The author of the first project based on the pictures of Peter I is unknown. From 1714 till 1716 the work was held under the direction of I.Bronstein.
In 1716 the building was constructed by G.B.Leblon. In 1719 I.Bronstein continued the decoration of the inner rooms of the palace and completed the decoration of the study of Peter I for which the fourteen carved oak panels celebrating the acts of Peter, science, art and trade were made by N.Pino's design. In 1721-1723 N.Miketti added the galleries to both sides of the building, completed by two-story wings. In 1745-1755 there was a rebuilding of the Big Palace by the project of F.B.Rastrelli. The architect raised the central capacity of the building by adding one more storey and erected one-stored galleries by both sides of it, crowned by two wings: the Heraldic - from the West, the Church - from the East.
In the palace Rastrelli created a luxurious suite of parade halls and sitting rooms. All rooms were richly decorated by wooden gilded carving, mirrors, painted shades and parquet set.
In 60-70's of the 18th century two Chinese studies, decorated by black lacquer panels with traditional Chinese paintings, were created by the project of the architect G.P.Valen de La-Moth.
In 1770's in Peterhof the architect J.Felten designed a new decoration for this halls - Chesmen, Throne and White Dining - room in classical style. The splendid Baroque decor of Rastrelli's halls was changed into strict modeling compositions and clear geometrical division of the walls.
The Big Palace is one of the most interesting historical and art museums of the country. There are the collections of masterpieces of Russian and West-European painting, sculpture, applied art.

The Cottage Palace
The Cottage Palace is the main architectural construction of the Alexandria Park; it was built by A.A.Menelas in 1826-1829. The Palace is situated on the upper terrace in the South East with the outlines of Leningrad and Kronstadt.
The passion for the false Gothic style, typical for Russian architecture of late 18 - early 19th centuries, was reflected in the architectural shapes and decoration of the Cottage.
A small two-stored building with an attic is decorated by acute-angled pediments, tracery lancet arcades, windows with oriels, ornamental details such as rose-windows, arch belts, cruciferae, trefoils.
The academic of painting D.B.Skotti, the carver V.Zakharov, the modeller M.Sokolov, many Russian skilled craftsmen - parquet floor layers, joiners, plasterers, bricklayers and many others.
In the beginning of the Great Patriotic War a major part of the museum exhibits was evacuated (1980 object from 2500 were saved). During the occupation of Peterhof the Fascists damaged the decoration of palace interiors. The modeled decor, many carved panels, painting were badly damaged, the furniture collection was almost destroyed.
In 1978 the painters, sculptors, marble-cutters and other specialists of the Leningrad association "The restorer" under the direction of I.N.Benois completed the palace reconstruction. The decorative ornament of the interiors were revived with the maximal approaching to the historical image. In the result of the huge collective activity, that filled in the losses of the collection, and studying the archives and iconographical materials the exposition of the museum placed in 20 halls was restored.
In the Sitting-room, Dining-room, Reception and other palace interiors took their places the canvases of I.Aivasovsky, O.Kiprensky, S.Chshedrin, S.andM. Vorobjovs. In the Big Study there are the marines of the famous Dutch painters of 17-18th century: Ja. De Goien and others. In the painting collection of the Cottage there are more than 200 pictures. The most significant sculptures are the works of A.Shadov, D.Raukh, I.Vitali.
The visitors of the museum can be see the objects of the Decorative and Applied Art - art furniture, bronze and cast-iron moldings, the collection of glass, Russian and West-European china.

The Big Cascade
The Big Cascade represents a unity with the Big Palace, the silhouette of which completes the perspective of a Marine Canal from the Gulf. The architectural design and sculpture decoration and sculpture decoration of the Big Cascade correspond to a clear idea - to show the Marine power of Russia. 64 fountains, 255 bronze sculptures, bas-reliefs, mascaronis and other decorative details include the Big Cascade into the number of the biggest fountain constructions in the world. The cascade has three waterfall staircases joined by a grotto which facade is cut by fine high arches.
Each of the seven steps of the side staircases is decorated by bas-reliefs and brackets and there are two fountains above each of them. Statues and roses are set up on granite pedestals from the sides of the stairs. In the front of the grotto on the ground there is a fountain "A Basket". The water of "A Basket" like of other fountains is poured into a deep semiround scoop. On its granite walls there are the fountains "The Sirens" and "The Naiads". In the scoop near the tuff walls the water of the fountains "Volkhov" and "Neva" is foamed. The figures of an old man and a young girl personify the Russian rivers, which were connected to the Ladoga Canal in thee early 18th century.
The subject-matter of the sculpture decoration of the Big Cascade is basically given from the Ancient Mythology: by means of allegory the history of Russia in the war for going out to the Baltic Sea is glorified and the enemy is disgraced. The Tritons, Sirens and Naiads sounds victory, the statues of Ancient Goods and heroes stand still, looking from their pedestals at a sea distance lying in front of them.
At the foot of the Cascade, in the centre of the scoop, the figure of "Samson breaking the jaws of a lion" stands on the island of granite stones. It is the biggest fountain of the Cascade (the height of the stream is 22m) and it is the monument in the honor of 25 anniversary of Poltava victory. Originally the sculpture group with the same name was designed by B.K.Rastrelli and set up in 1735.
In the beginning of 19th century the deformed lead sculpture of the Big Cascade was changed into bronze, golden, designed on models by famous Russian foremen F.Shubin, F.Chshedrin, I.Prokofiev, I.Martos, G.B.Rashette. The new group "Samson breaking the jaws of a lion" was created by M.Kozlovsky. In 1947 the fountain was restored by the sculptors V.Simonov and N.Mikhailov. From the attic above the Big Cascade there is a panorama of a central ensemble in the Low Park, the celebrating character of which is underlined by twenty two streams of the alley of fountains and the Voronokhin colonnade, completed the square in front of the Big Cascade.
Built in 1800 they got the name by the name of their creator A.Voronikhin. In front of the colonnade there are the stalls with "Cup" fountains. In the corners of flower beds and symmetrically to the Cascade there are semi-circular stone benches decorated by the fountains "Nymph" and "Danaida". They are the last fountains of the Low Park that were built.

The Upper Garden
Two spacious attached to the Big palace - the Upper Garden - from the South and the Low Park - from the North - are the component of the Peterhov architectural and art ensemble.
Despite the comparatively small area (15 hectares) the Upper Garden makes the impression of wonderful harmony, width and space. From the monumental pylons of the main gates there is a magnificent panorama of the central stalles with fountains, clear lines of lime-trees, spinnies of geometrical shapes, pergolas ad trellis summer-houses. The Upper garden is decorated by marble statues by Italian foremen of 18th century, decorative vases, five fountains. Thee of them - "Mezheumniy" ("Indefinite"), "Oak" and "Neptune"- are situated in the central stalls, the other two are in Square ponds opposite the palace wings - the Hermitage and the Church. The most interesting from the point of art and the largest fountain of the Upper garden is "Neptune". The sculpture of the fountain created in Nuremberg in 1650-1660 by G.Shveiger by the model of H.Richter was set in Peterhof in 1798.

Address: Peterhof (Petrodvorets), suburb of St.Petersburg

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The Great Palace






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