THE PETERHOF PARKS
The architectoral and artistic complex of Peterhof is formed by the green massifs of the Upper Gardens and Lower Park, adjacent parks and gardens of Alexandria and Strelna, several palaces and a large number of fountains. Besides the latter, the parks are enlivened with a lot of sculptural compositions, numerous pavilions, cascades and intricately shaped foot-bridges. In creating the ensemble, the architects, master masons and gardeners made skilful use of the local topography - picturesque terraces rising one upon another. Thus, the Lower Park was laid out on the lowest terrace, stretching right down to the waterfront; the Great Palace was erected and the Upper Gardens were laid out on the middle terrace on which the town of Petrodvorets stands. The third terrace, which rises 100 m above sea level, abounds in natural springs which supply water to the fountains.
Adjoining the Great Palace to the south, the Upper Gardens cover an area of 15 hectares between the façade of the Palace and the main road to St Petersburg. The green lawns and fountains of the broad parterre flank the central axis symmetrically and enable one already at the main entrance to survey the Palace in all its splendour. The whole layout of the Upper Gardens is centred on the palace. It plays the role of a magnificent courtyard or cour d'honneur for the Great Palace.
The Lower Park, famous for its numerous wonderful fountains and cascades, is considerded a true jewel of the eighteenth-century Russian park architecture, a splendid specimen of a formal Baroque garden. From the terrace by the north façade of the Great Palace you have a splendid view of the Lower Park (covering an area of more than 100 hectares) and the sea, the focal point being the Great Cascade. Right and left of it are the Grand Flower-beds with the Italian and French Fountains. In front of the Cascade in the middle of the basin the mighty jet of the Samson Fountain shoots into the air. From there the water of the Cascade flows along the canal, straight as an arrow, to the sea. The canal devides the park into two more or less equal parts, usually called the west (Marly) and the east (Monplaisir) areas.
To the east of the Lower Park on the shore of the Gulf of Finland lies the Alexandria Park covering an area of 115 hectares. Here too the terraced layout is preserved. But this park is quite different. There are clusters of oak trees, maples, limes and other trees dotted about the large open meadows. Small paths wind over the terraces and green lawns and a brook babbles in a gully spanned by a "ruined bridge". The romantic atmosphere of the park is enhanced by small buildings in Gothic style.
The Strelna complex is situated on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland, 22.5 kilometres from St Petersburg. In the nineteenth century it was the favourite place of summer rest with the inhabitants of St Petersburg. The Strelna landscapes were a source of inspiration for the well-known poets Alexander Odoyevsky, Alexander Griboyedov, Konstantin Romanov (K. R.), Konstantin Fofanov, Alexander Blok, Taras Shevchenko, Iosif Brodsky and others.
Indeed, everything there breathes a true spirit of poetry - picturesque ponds with meandering banks, canals spanned by small bridges, gently sloping hills, ravines, gardens and groves with century-old trees, singing birds, buzzing and chirring insects.
Strelna is remarkable not only for its location and beautiful landscapes, but also for its majestic palace and park complex of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which has an original layout, unusual appearance and a long history. It consists of two complexes: the formal one, with the stone Konstantin Palace and a regular park as its landmarks and an earlier one, notable for the wooden Palace of Peter the Great. Between them are located the Flower (Podlipsky) Garden with a Large Stone Greenhouse, the Aviary, the Track Meadow, the Konstantin Grove, His Majesty's Own Garden, the Children's Garden and the English Park.
The observe view of the
Lower Park and the Upper Garden (539 Kb)
The Garden of Bacchus: view from the top of the Marly Cascade
Northern part of the Chinese Garden
View in the Chinese Garden
The Dragon or Chessboard Hill Cascade