One more interesting building to visit when you’re in Peterhof is the Russian Orthodox cathedral of saints Peter and Paul. The Cathedral is located just across the main street from the Upper Gardens of the Grand Palace. This Cathedral is built in a more traditional russian architecture style than most cathedrals and churches in Saint Petersburg. It has a pyramidal shape crowned with five tented heads. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos inside russian orthodox churches. But this one is richly and very beautifully decorated inside. If you take a marshutka from Baltisky Railwaystation in Saint Petersburg you can jump of at the bus stop just beside the cathedral. Very cheep, cost only 50 rubles (1,2 €). If you’re not comfortable with the public transport in Russia, you can always buy an excursion. There are lots of companies offering a broad variety of excursions.
Monthly Archives: May 2011
The Upper Gardens are maybe not as attractive as the Lower Gardens. But they have one advantage, they are free to visit. The more spectacular Lower Gardens have admission. The centrepiece of the Upper Gardens are the Neptune Fountain after the Roman god of the sea. There are some beautiful statues too, I belive that they also are taken out of the Greek/Roman mythology.
The most striking features of the Peterhof Grand Palace are its 176 fountains. But unlike the fountains of its role model, Versailles, these fountains works every day from early may to early october. I’ve visited Versailles twice but never saw the fountains in work there. if I remember it correctly they only work in special shows one a week during summer.
Most of the fountains are situated in the lower gardens and the most well-known are the Grand Cascade and the Samson Fountain. The Grand Cascade consists of 64 fountains and 37 gilded sculptures. The Samson Fountain depicts the moment when Samson tears open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. From the lion’s mouth shoots a 20 metre high vertical jet of water, the highest in all of Peterhof.
The Grand Cascade
The Samson Fountain and the Grand Cascade
If we’re talking about palaces in Saint Petersburg and it’s surroundings, then we have to include the Grand palace at Peterhof. Peterhof which is German for Peter’s Court is situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, about 45 minutes by bus or train from Baltisky Vokzal in Saint Petersburg. Peter the Great’s desire was to build an imperial palace in the suburbs of his new city. The inspiration was Versailles and the palace and it’s gardens are often referred to as the Russian Versailles. However this grandiose project where not compleated under Peter’s lifetime. It was under his daughter, Elizabeth’s regime that the Grand Palace with its famous gardens and fountains were compleated. Guess who which architect was hired for this project. No surprise it was Tsaritsa Elizabeth’s favourite, Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Palace, at Peterhof, itself is not as impressive as the Winter Palace or the Grand Catherine Palace. But the two pavilions at each wing of the palace are very eye-catching with their golden cupolas. This is the Church pavilion with 5 gilded cupolas viewed from the lower gardens.
One of the most picturesque buildings in the gardens at the Catherine Palace is the Hermitage Pavilion. It was built at the same time as the palace and is beautifully situated in a forest clearing. The Hermitage Pavilion proved to be a favourite place for the Tsaritsa Elizabeth and her guests. She particularly liked to show it off to foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries.
The central hall of the Hermitage was the object of particular fascination for visitors. It contained a table large enough to seat up to 35 guests. What was unique about the dining room table was that it was equipped with special mechanisms allowing the guests to dine without the presence of servants. In the lower basement, the servants would prepare the table, hoist it to the floor above where waiting guests would sit down to dinner. A diner only needed only to write the name of the dish he desired on a slate and pull the bell next to it. A short time later the chosen dish would appear at the table. Once the meal was over, the table was lowered into the floor, the chairs removed, and the dining room opened into a ballroom.
As you can see in the HDR-picture, craftsmen are laying their final hand on an ongoing renovation. Next day the Hermitage Pavilion was reopened for the public after this renovation.