Saint Petersburg is heaven for tourists in Russia. From traditional attractions like palaces, gardens, and museums to modern entertainment. But one of the most attractive and popular of all is the grand "Peterhof." The Peterhof has included a series of palaces, fountains, and impressive cascades.
The Peterhof is in 30 kilometers west of Saint Petersburg with excellent weather on the coast of Finland Gulf. The complete area of the Peterhof is around 4000 hectares. The Peterhof is both included in Russia 7 Wonders and registered as UNESCO world heritage sites. These two explain the reason behind its popularity in Russia.
The area which now Peterhof exist, in eighteen century, was only a holiday residence on Finland Gulf shore at first for Peter I. In those years, Russia was in a fight for accessing the Baltic sea with Swedish Empire. After winning the war as a victory sign, Peter the Great which was fascinated with Versailles Palace in France commanded to build a look-alike palace in Peterhof. Peter I, who planned to make Russia modern more specifically Western, put lots of efforts to expand and more glorious as much as possible, even after his death, these efforts resumed by successors. Several architects, artists, and caretakers help The Peterhof became a majestic royal palace for Tsar to rule till 1917. The only exception was Catherine I's reign as she moved the royal residence to The Catherine Palace, but after her death, his son and successor Paul I went back to Peterhof.
Unfortunately, during the second world war, after the short-time invasion of Russia by Nazi's army, The Peterhof complex and its possessions were almost ruined or gravely damaged. After the war ended, the government with the help of volunteers and the army, most of the Peterhof restored. This restoration which is still going on played an influential role in Russia restoration. During and after the war some anti-Nazi propaganda changed Peterhof which is a German phrase to "Petrodvorets" The Russian term for Peter's Palace, but in 1997 switched to its original name. The resemblance of the Palace of Versailles results in tourists to nickname Peterhof as "Russian Versailles."
Besides the variable past of Peterhof, today this place is one of the main fragments of St. Petersburg and Russia tourism. Its series of palaces became a great museum and galleries. The Upper Garden and Lower park other than its natural charm and decoration, are full of old sculptures and masterpieces. The Cascades and fountains are the most popular section of the Peterhof. So, assigning less than a day for this magical place is impolite. However, regarding the time and the places you should visit in your journey, it's understandable for agencies to consider a minor time for Peterhof in their tour of Russia. So it's good to know at least some of the main Peterhof sections for making a valuable plan for your trip.
The Peterhof divided into four main sections: The Grand Palace, The Grand Cascade, The Upper Garden, and The Lower Park.
The Grand Palace was the summer residence for the royals and Tsars, might be the most exciting part of your tour. This gorgeous structure with its majestic design has thirty rooms. The Grand Palace which is a comprehensive gallery of golden decorates, paintings, Tsars' properties, and masterpieces, is the link between the Upper Garden and The Lower Park. The design and form combined with arts and sculptures turn the palace into an astonishing museum to explore.
The Upper Garden which is the result of royal family’s years of efforts locates at the southern part of the palace. The place which had loads of extraordinary features was The Peter I's design that changed only slightly over time. Before 1730, The Upper Garden used as cultivation filed for fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants, and the big pool utilized as water storage, also breeding fishes. But then, there was a massive change at the palace. The area expanded a little, figures and decorative plants replace the farming lands, and breeding fish suspended to give the garden a royal look instead.
The upper garden has some beautiful landscapes and quite pleasant, but the real wonder of the Peterhof would be the lower park or as locals call it the Nizhny Park which required additional entering ticket, and we cover the information about it in another post. But one thing for sure, you can ask anyone who visit the Nizhny Park for confirmation, the additional ticket is completely worth the amazing scenes the park provides. So, don’t forget to check with your Russia tour administrators to add the Nizhny Park into your Peterhof’s tour program.
Peterhof is one of the main suburb attractions of St. Petersburg. While Oranienbaum is only 10 km away from Peterhof, most tourists have plans to visit only Peterhof, and most of them might have not even heard of the Lomonosov. Naturally, because of the distance and the time limits, it's only fair if someone wants to see the Peterhof completely rather than half of each place. There are also several ways to go to Peterhof, including buses, personal car, and Hydrofoils.
There are also tons of other things such as buildings, galleries, small museums, fountains, and monuments that you should explore while visiting the place. All these things combined wrote the "Peterhof" at the top of any Russia tour’s list, but, if you're traveling to Russia by yourself, don't miss the chance to visit the Peterhof, you'll have a great time in there without a doubt.
To find more about Peterhof, Nizhny Park, and other St. Petersburg attractions, you can visit our blog at Star Travel Group, including this Visit St. Petersburg short guide and other posts.