by Adrian on July 3, 2012

No trip to St Petersburg would be complete without a trip to Peterhof – at least that’s what it said in the guide book:

This most stunning of the tsarist palaces around St Petersburg was first built by Peter the Great; it is also known as Petrodvorets (Peter’s Palace). Over the years his successors continued to build and expand – pretty much constantly – to create the astounding ensemble seen today. Comparisons to Versailles abound and it’s easy to see why: the sheer scale of the main palace and its incredible garden were heavily influenced by Louis XIV’s own summer residence. That said, the centrepiece at Peterhof, the Grand Cascade, is all Peter’s own work.

The hydrofoil was fun, the gardens immense. They even had free wifi near the house!

Interesting fact:

After WWII, Peterhof was largely left in ruins. Hitler had intended to throw a party here when his plans to occupy the Astoria Hotel were thwarted. He drew up pompous invitations, which obviously incensed his Soviet foes. Stalin’s response was to pre-empt any such celebration by bombing the estate himself in the winter of 1941–1942.

So it is ironic but true that most of the damage at Peterhof occurred at the hands of the Soviets. What is there today is largely a reconstruction; in fact, the main palace was completely gutted, as only a few of its walls were left standing.

How typically Russian.

Funny story:

Sandra and Geoff went the day before on their own because Jax and I wanted to wait for better weather for photographs.

In fact, when they got there, it was so windy and rainy that they rushed from the hydrofoil without looking around and headed straight to the nearest trees for shelter.

With no idea what to expect they wondered around the gardens enjoying the fountains and ornate buildings.

Imagine their surprise when after a couple of hours they turned a corner and were met by the stunning splendour of the main house and it’s huge golden cascade, ornate centrepiece fountains and gold statues.

Everyone else gets off the ferry and is immediately struck by the splendour the house ahead of them along the ornate fountain and statue lined canal.

Sandra and Geoff must be the only visitors ever who ever missed it!

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