The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These Palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the 'Russian Versailles'. The palace-ensemble along with the city centre is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peter the Great first mentions the Peterhof site in his journal in 1705, during the Great Northern War, as a good place to construct a landing for use in travelling to and from the island fortress of Kronstadt. And in 1714, Peter began construction of the Monplaisir ('my pleasure') Palace based on his own sketches of the palace that he wanted close to the shoreline. This was Peter's Summer Palace that he would use on his way coming and going from Europe through the harbour at Kronstadt. On the walls of this seacoast palace hung hundreds of paintings that Peter brought from Europe and allowed to weather Russian winters without heat together with the dampness of being so close to the sea. And in the seaward corner of his Monplaisir Palace, Peter made his Maritime Study from which he could see Kronstadt Island to the left and St. Petersburg to the right. Later, he expanded his plans to include a vaster royal château of palaces and gardens further inland, on the model of Versailles. Each of the tsars after Peter expanded on the inland palaces and gardens of Peterhof, but the major contributions by Peter the Great were completed by 1725.

Peterhof originally appeared quite differently than it does today. Many of the fountains had not yet been installed. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist, the Samson Fountain and its massive pedestal had not yet been installed in the Sea Channel, and the channel itself was used as a grand marine entrance into the complex.

Perhaps the most important change augmenting Peter's design was the elevation of the Grand Palace to central status and prominence. The Grand Palace was originally called simply 'Upper', and was hardly larger than any of the other structures of the complex. The addition of wings, undertaken between 1745 and 1755, was one of the many projects commissioned from the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli by Elizabeth of Russia. Likewise, the Grand Cascade was more sparsely decorated when initially built. The augmentation of Peterhof's original fountains and the addition of new ones continued well into the 19th century.

Peterhof, like Catherine's Palace, was captured by German troops in 1941 and held until 1944. In the few months that elapsed between the outbreak of war in the west and the appearance of the German Army, employees were only able to save a portion of the treasures of the palaces and fountains. An attempt was made to dismantle and bury the fountain sculptures, but three quarters, including all of the largest ones, remained in place. The occupying forces of the German Army largely destroyed Peterhof. Many of the fountains were destroyed, and the palace was partially exploded and left to burn. Restoration work began almost immediately after the end of the war and continues to this day.

The name was changed to 'Petrodvorets' ('Peter's Palace') in 1944 as a result of wartime anti-German sentiment and propaganda, but the original name was restored in 1997 by the post-Soviet government of Russia. In 2003, Saint Petersburg celebrated its 300th anniversary. As a result, much of the building and statuary in Peterhof has been restored and new gilt-work abounds. Today Peterhof is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Saint Petersburg area.

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Founded: 1714
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Russia

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User Reviews

tejas kotwal (10 months ago)
Place was closed due to storm warning. But definitely worth a visit from reading all the reviews. You. An reach by road using bus from Avtovo metro station and then catching K300 or K401 bus. Just look for Peterhof in Russian on the bus and jump on, people will guide you where to get off. Right next to ticket counter you have two restaurant to eat and there are many stalls inside the garden to eat as well
LUIS LEBRUN (10 months ago)
I visited Peterhof during a rainy summer day. When visiting Russia pay heed to the fact that Russia has rainy summers, not that sunny as one may expect. I take my hat off to this well preserved palace! Everywhere you look one can spot glittery statues, breathtaking fountains lavish salons, and so on. I’ve visited many European palaces, however, I must say they pale into comparison with the Russian ones. Getting there may not prove easy depending on the weather. We took the hydrofoil which you can find just on the banks of the Neva River, right behind The Winter Palace. It’s worth taking it, but, in our case the service stopped on our way back due to the heavy rain and wind. Plan ahead second routes should you end up being affected by unexpected weather conditions. Visiting the palaces requires paying at least three tickets. You may decide the sections from the palace you wish to see and wonder about. If possible purchase your tickets prior to your visit as the lines may be quite long and you may end up making a time consuming line under the rain or the bad weather. May you be lucky as to be there on a bright day, do share your beautiful pictures. On the bright side, one can bump into many squirrels mingling with the crowds; they love being given treats, have fun with them !
Majeedy Al Dark (12 months ago)
Very beautiful. I reached late and couldn't fully enjoy this beautiful park/museum. I highly recommend anyone to visiting Peterhof or St Peterburg to dedicate some time for this amazing place.
Zakauddin Ahmad (17 months ago)
An amazing palace which is having numbers of fountains, walking corridors and stairs. It has on one side forest and on other side beach sea view with a lot of things to see. Palace is now being used as museum which has many shops, food outlets and tuc shops. Trees and beautiful view is making it worth coming
D D (17 months ago)
WOW! Simply stunning! Amazing, a MUST visit place with a lot of history. Take a speed hydrofoil boat ride from St. Petersburg. It's the most expensive, but the most comfortable option to get there. People call it a Russian Versailles, but it is definitely better than the original: even bigger, and more luxurious. I've visited both places, so speaking from the personal perspective.
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