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Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets (Петерго́ф- Петродворец)

Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets

 

 

Location: Leningrad Oblast  Map

Constructed: 1714

 

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Description of the Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace (Peter's Court in German) or Petrodvorets (Peter's Palace in Russian) is one of the largest and most visited sites in the Leningrad Oblast in Russia. Sometimes called the "Russian Versailes" it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

History of Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace is often called "the Russian Versaille" due to its magnitude and splendor. The construction of Monplaisir ("my pleasure" in French) complex began in 1714 on the orders of Emperor Peter I the Great. Shores of the Baltic Sea including Peterhof were acquired from the Swedish Empire during the Great Northern War that still ravaged when Saint Petersburg and surrounding palaces began its construction. Peter's daughter Elisabeth constructed the Grand Palace, extended area of the park and erected a famous system of fountains, including spectacular Grand Cascade. It was largely abandoned by Emperor Catherina the Great who moved her official residence to Pushkin. Emperor Nicholas I moved his residence here again, but he didn't like the size of the Royal palace. Instead he ordered erection of a small palace, Cottage Palace in 1826 on the grounds of Peterhof. During German occupation the estate was badly damaged by the German forces, but it was quickly restored in 1947.

 

 

 

 

Great Cascade

Peterhof Grand Cascade Palace

Grand Cascade of Peterhof- Petrodvorets is an enormous complex of fountains in the center of the royal palace. It is an outstanding example of Baroque architecture and one of the most famous fountains in the World. Initially it was erected under orders of Peter I the Great with the main Palace. Its construction began in May 1716 and on July 13, 1721 first trial run of water was held in the presence of the Russian emperor himself. But the work on cascade sculptures and decorations continued. In the Center of the Grand Cascade of Peterhof is a Lower or Large grotto. Two cascading stairs with seven steps surround the area around the grotto. Stairs are decorated with gilded arms, sculptures and reliefs. The lowest fountain in the complex is a fountain known as a Samson Fountain after its central sculpture of Samson.

 

Fountain Samson

In 1735 Grand Cascade of Peterhof- Petrodvorets complex got its famous sculpture of Samson that rips the jaw of lion. It was a reference to famous Battle of Poltava between Russian armies under leadership (and direct participation) of Peter the Great and Charles XII of Sweden. It occurred on 27 June of 1709. Russian Orthodox Church celebrated memory of the Biblical Old Testament hero Samson. Lion in the sculpture represents Swedish Empire those royal coat of arms contained lion as its symbol. The idea of the sculpture belonged to architect B. Rastrelli, while the base was designed by architect M. Zemcov. In 1802 lead sculpture designed by Mikhail Kozlovsky was replaced by a bronze copy. During German occupation during World War II the statue of Samson was stolen along with other artefacts from Peterhof. Some evidence suggest that they were used simply as a scrap metal for military purposes. After a war an exact copy of Samson was made. It was completed in 1947 and opened just two years after the end of World War II. Fountain Samson is also the most powerful in the whole complex of the Grand Cascade. The height of its water jet column reaches a height of 21 meters.

Lower Park

Monplaisir Palace

Peterhof Palace Petrodvorets

Open: June- Sept: 10:30am- 5pm

Closed: Wednesday

Catherine Wing: May- Sept 10:30am- 5pm

Oct- April: Sat- Sun 10:30am- 5pm

Closed Thursdays

Palace of Monplaisir or "my pleasure" in French is the original residence of Peter the Great that started this magnificent palace complex. This small residence sits on the eastern side of the Lower Park. It was designed by the tsar Peter himself. If you get here by boat this is the first thing you will see. Tsar usually got here by boat from a ship since the waters here are fairly shallow. It was constructed in 1714- 23 and became the preferred residence of an emperor. Here he gathered his closest friends and here he brought his personal art collection of the 17th century art. Catherine I, his wife usually cooked in the palace kitchen.

Peter's daughter Elizabeth added the Catherine Wing when future Catherine II married her son Peter III. The marriage was loveless and Catherine overthrew her unloved husband in the coup headed by the Orlov's brothers. It was here that Catherine found out about success of this operation.

 

Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich

Peter the Great had only son Alexei. Young man was well educated and possessed a sharp mind. He however despised autocratic rule of his father and disagreed with some of the policies that he felt damaged Russian traditional way of life. He married a simple Russian woman and even escaped to Europe. Brought back from to Saint Petersburg son tried to restore relationship with his father. It didn't work. Accused of treason and attempts to overthrow a ruling emperor Alexei was executed on the orders of his father Peter the Great. This famous painting made in 1871 by Russian artists N. N. Ge depicts interrogation of a young prince in the Palace Monplaisir. We don't know for sure if it happened here, but the interior of palace is certainly that of favorite Peter's residence. Today you can see this work of art in Moscow in Tretyakov Gallery.

 

Marly Palace

Peterhof Palace Petrodvorets Marly Palace

May- Sept: 10:30am- 5pm

Oct- Apr: 10:30am- 5pm

Closed: Mondays

Marly Palace sits in the Western part of the Lower Park. It was constructed under supervision of Architect Johann Braunstein on the orders of Peter the Great after he visited the French Palace of Louis XIV in Marly- Le- Roi. The French original was destroyed during years of the French Revolution, but its Baroque copy still well preserved. This quiet residence is surrounded by a rectangular pond on one side and a crescent shaped on the other side. Marly Palace was largely abandoned as a living residence after the death of the great emperor. It became a museum of Peter's art collection, furniture and many other items that belonged to him. In the 19th century palace was reconstructed. Its structural weaknesses were fixed.

Hermitage

Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets HermitageOpen: May- Sept: 10:30am- 6pm

Closed: Mondays

 

 

 

Great Orangery

 

Great Orangery or Grand Orangery is situated in the Lower Park of the Peterhof Palace Royal complex. It was constructed between spring 1722 and late 1725 and was intended to grow exotic plants. Additionally it was reserved as a storage space for tropical plants that grew in pots and were spread out throughout a park in summer warmer months. It was likely designed by Italian architect Niccolo Michetti. Its construction was supervised by Johann Friedrich Braunstein and Michael G. Zemcov.

 

Peterhof Landings

Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets Landing during World War 2Beautiful and tranquil parks of Peterhof didn't escape the horrors of the World War II. Petrodvorets as it is occasionally called saw one of the failed operations that became known as a Peterhof Landings. Leningrad (today Saint Petersburg) was encircled by German forces on the South and Finish armies on the North. An attempt to break through the blockade was designed by famous marshal G.K. Zhukov and V.F. Tributc. Their plan was simple. Throw sailors behind enemy lines and see what happens. On October 5th 510 soldiers landed in the Lower Park of Peterhof and Aleksandriya. They used small gun boats that towed boats behind them. In addition ships like Koral and gun batteries in Kronshtadt supported the landings. They were no air cover or anti- tank guns. Amazingly the unit held off their position for two days. Only one sailor was picked up by a Soviet gun boat. He reported that everyone was dead and they ran out of ammunition. Later captured pictures made by Germans showed Lower Park of Peterhof covered by bodies of dead Soviet sailors of the Baltic Fleet. Soviet propaganda chose to forget about badly planned operation of Marsha of Victory as Zhukov was called. This changed after the collapse of Soviet Union. A small memorial commemorates this tragic event.

 

Gun Boat                                                                           Ship "Koral"        

Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets  Peterhof Palace or Petrodvorets

 

 

 


 

Transportation

 

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

 

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

 

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

 

 

Interesting information and useful tips

 

 

 

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