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The Fountains

The Fountains


The Menager or Economical Fountains

In the parterre of the Garden of Bacchus, in front of the Marly Cascade, two columns of water rise from round pools twenty-five and a half metres in diameter. The width and height of these pearl-white foaming pillars, reaching at times to fifteen metres, is truly amazing. This effect is achieved by the simple yet ingenious construction of the nozzle: it is twenty-six centimetres in diameter, but inside it there is a copper conical blocking device, which leaves a ring of two and a half centimetres for the water to pass through. The water, flowing round the blocking cone, shoots out under great pressure and forms a hollow trunk, so that the fountain, for all its apparent size, uses comparatively little water. Fountains of this type were called Menager Fountains, from the French menager, "to use in an economical manner".

It was Michetti who designed the fountains by the Marly Cascade, and Peter the Great who drew the sketches for the copper nozzles. The fountains were built and tested between 1722 and 1724, but their size necessitated an increase in the dimensions of the pools, and this was carried out in 1725 by Zemtsov. The decoration and hydrotechnical construction of the Menager Fountains have been retained until the present day. The surrounds of Pudost limestone were made in 1740.

The Menager Fountains, damaged during the period of Nazi occupation, 1941-44, were restored in 1949 by a team of fountain-builders under the direction of Alexey Smirnov. Later the surrounds were reproduced in Saaremaa dolomite, and the bottom lined with slabs of black and white marble.

The Menager Fountains are extremely rare examples of a type of waterworks which flourished in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Their foaming columns contrast with the smooth sheets of transparent water that flow lazily down the marble and gold steps, setting off by their violent motion the majestic calm of the cascade.

mpeg The Menager or Economical Fountain. (216 Kb)

The Menager or Economical Fountain.
View from the Marly Cascade.

The Menager or
Economical Fountain.


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