Our guide took us to a restaurant just down the street from Catherine’s Palace for lunch. We choose traditional foods…borscht, blini, and meat. We also shared a bottle of Baltika beer, which is from the second largest brewery in Russia. It is located in St. Petersburg.
Our driver met us after lunch and we continued on to Peterhof. The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof and was laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. These palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the “Russian Versailles”.
We did not go inside the main palace but instead toured the gardens and fountains, along with a visit to Monplaisir, a small but charming summer palace. Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade. The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source. These fountains then feed into a canal which empties into the Gulf of Finland. It was truly beautiful and amazing. If you look closely in two of the pictures, you can see a bride and groom taking wedding photos. This is a very popular location! There were also actors dressed in period clothing and would allow you to take pictures with them….for a price! 🙂
The expanse of the Lower Gardens is designed in the formal style of french formal gardens of the 17th century. The many fountains located here exhibit an unusual degree of creativity. One of the most notable designs is entitled ‘The Sun’. A disk radiating water jets from its edge creates an image of the sun’s rays, and the whole structure rotates about a vertical axis so that the direction in which the “sun” faces is constantly changing.
Several fountains are designed with the specific purpose of soaking visitors. Two take the form of gangly trees rigged with jets that activate when someone approaches. Another, disguised as an umbrella with a circular bench set around the stem, drops a curtain of water from its rim when someone enters to take a seat. This was a favorite of Peter the Great, who loved to play practical jokes on his guests.