the communist reign in Russia, architectural
styles could best be described as
bland. Fortunately, the summer palace
of Peter the Great wasn’t affected.
Known as Peterhof, the summer palace
of Peter the Great is a very impressive
area. The palace is arranged with a
central rectangle format over roughly
two or three acres. This area is then
surrounded by areas of wood and “nature” as
the Russians call it. Peterhof stands
out like a jewel among the bland communist
structures found in greater St. Petersburg.
Fountains, Fountains, Fountains
At the time of construction in 1715,
Peter the Great was clearly in his “fountain” phase.
Peterhof isn’t so much a palace
as a collection of some of the most
impressive fountains you’ve ever
seen. There are fountains in the front,
back, each side, in the bathroom and
so on. All of them are impressive and
worth a look.
Foremost of the fountains of Peterhof
is the Great Cascade. Arriving from
St. Petersburg by boat, one is offloaded
on a long pier at the end of the Grand
Canal. The Grand Canal cuts through
the woods surrounding Peterhof directly
to the front of the palace. As you
proceed, you start to notice something
big and colorful at the front of the
palace. Welcome to the Great Cascade.
The Great Cascade sites at the base
of Peterhof and is more impressive
than the palace. Created in the Baroque
style, the Great Cascade is hard to
describe. At its base is a pool a large
pool with rock platforms crowned by
golden statutes spouting water. Rising
up from the pool to the palace are
two sets of steps surrounding a plateau.
The steps are a combination of black
marble inlaid with gold and white marble.
The steps are crowned with statues
and, again, fountains, which make them
a combination of sprouting water and
cascading falls. All of this is built
up on a collection of rock and rises
over 30 feet to the base of the palace.
As I said, the Great Cascade is hard
to describe. If you would like to see
it, just do a search for “Peterhof” on
your search engine of choice.
Perhaps the most impressive thing
about the Great Cascade is the power
source. With fountains blowing water
thirty to fifty feet in the air, there
must be some serious pump action at
work? Nope. Peter the Great created
a system that runs entirely off gravity.
Day trips to Peterhof are hocked something
fierce in St. Petersburg. While I usually
disdain tourist traps, this is one
you should definitely see.