- Location: On the Gulf of Finland west of St. Petersburg in Russia
- Attraction Type: Imperial Estate
- Significance: Termed the Versailles of Russia; a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Best Time to Visit: May to September
- Visiting hours: 10:30 am to 5 pm; Mondays and last Tuesday of every month closed
- How to Reach: By train from Baltiskiy Station in St. Petersburg to Noviy Peterhof; Alternatively by minibusses from Baltiskiy Station to Peterhof
- Nearest International Airport: St. Petersburg Pulkovo International Airport
Peterhof is to Russia what Versailles is to France. This imposing estate with its Grand Palace and adjoining Peterhof Park is to be seen to be believed. Peter the Great inspired by Versailles set out to build ‘Peter’s Court’ or Peterhof in Russia. The grandeur, brilliance, craftsmanship, and the entire layout is astounding. A tour to Europe can never be complete without a visit to this incredible destination.
Peterhof Grand Palace conceived to be the main attraction of Petrodvorets or Peterhof was designed by Jean Baptiste le Blond. Started in 1714 the construction of this imposing palace was completed in 1721. After the death of Peter, the Great improvement of this Palace was carried on by his daughter Elizabeth after 1740. She appointed Bartolomeo Rastrelli who enhanced the palace with two pavilions surmounted by gild cupolas. The inside of the Palace is more lavish and intricate than the somewhat simple exteriors.
As you enter the Grand Palace you would be greeted by the unbelievably intricate Ceremonial Staircase. All along gilded statues and glorious frescos adorn the walls and the corridors. The Ballroom with its rich decorations in gold and the Throne Room with Felten’s turquoise and white creations are brilliant. The parquet floor of the Throne Room is particularly remarkable. The Imperial Suite Drawing Room with silk wall hangings and furnishings made of China silk exudes a timeless elegance. Another superlative creation is the Western Chinese Study done up in perfect Oriental díécor with green and red jewel inlaid walls and a splendid Chinese tea set.
Peterhof Park & Gardens is a resplendent representation of park designs over two centuries. All forms of landscaped gardens found throughout Europe are displayed splendidly around the Grand Palace. In fact, Peterhof Park is like an encyclopedia of gardening. It is amazing that the creators of this extraordinary garden could put up such a wonderful display in greenery in the harsh climatic conditions of Peterhof. The first gardens to be developed were those around Monplaisir, the original residence of Peter the Great, and Marly, the hermitage. You would discover the Garden of Venus, the Garden of Bacchus, and cherry and apple orchards.
After the formation of the Lower Gardens by Peter the Great, the Upper Gardens were created by his daughter Elizabeth. With the services of Nicola Michetti and Jean Leblond, she set up a number of flower beds. Thereafter significant improvements were made by Catherine the Great and Nicholas I. Catherine The Great took the assistance of James Meders, an English landscaper, and Giacomo Quarenghi, an Italian architect to create the English Park. This is a fine example of Russian classical architecture.
The Fountains of Peterhof are an integral part of this huge Imperial Estate. Of particular significance is the Grand Cascade made up of more than 200 bronze statues, and 64 fountains. Another outstanding creation is Rastrelli’s Samson wrestling a lion’s jaws.
Hotels in St. Petersburg
It is advisable to stay in St. Petersburg for touring Peterhof. You might choose from the Grand Hotel Europe, Kempinski Hotel, Angleterre Hotel, Stony Island Hotel, and Radisson SAS Royal Hotel.