About 30 kilometers outside of Saint Petersburg stands the masterpiece of tsar Peter the Great: Petrodvorets, also known as the Peterhof Palace. This was the summer palace of the tsar. Originally meant as a break for Peter when he was on his way to the nearest Russian marine station. But eventually the tsar kept sticking around at the summer palace. You could say he was kind of fond of the place, because he transformed this humble palace into a true Russian Versailles. In his mind this palace was always far from finished, it never could be as majestic as the Western palaces.
I think Peter was wrong. To me Peterhof is majestic. This definitely has something to do with the fact that it’s built on a rock. It doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s always a great sight. The golden and yellow colors are amazing against the blue water of the Finnish Gulf. The palace is surrounded by several fontains, statues and ‘little’ garden houses. The most beautiful fontain is in the front of the palace, the Grande Cascade. This fontain is built in steps, each one getting higher. Sprinklers are alternated with golden statues and in the center you will find a conquered golden lion. In the summer this spectacle gets heightened by the classical music that is played each morning.
Peterhof was the playground of the tsar dynasty. After the death of Peter the Great every tsar and tsarina tried to put his or her mark on the palace. Anything to make it even more glorious. Elizabeth added the Grand Cascade and Catherine expanded the park. But sadly they are all forgotten, except for Peter as his name is directly linked to the palace.
There are several ways you can get to the summer palace. Options are the bus, the ferry, the boat or the train. Keep in mind that the Russians know that tourists love this kind of stuff. So they will charge extra along the way. Expect additional fees for certain rooms or parts of the park. Just accept that this is part of the Peterhof Palace experience.
Have you ever visited the Peterhof?