Peterhof is nicknamed the «Russian Versailles» and is a jewel of the Russian art, a town of parks, palaces and fountains which is very often compared with French Versailles. But don’t believe those who state this: our Peterhof is much better! You can see this during the Peterhof tour and other tours.
On the southern shores of the Gulf of Finland near Saint Petersburg lies the town of Peterhof. It has a population of over 60,000, it was founded in 1710 by Peter the Great and became an official town in 1762. The town is home to the famous Peterhof Palace along with one of the two campuses for the Saint Petersburg State University, and the famed Petrodvorets Watch Factory. The palace and the city center are recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Peterhof is comprised of several different areas and buildings including the Grand Peterhof Palace, the Upper Gardens, the Lower Gardens, along with several pavilions and museums. The Grand Peterhof Palace sits less than 100 meters from the shores of the Gulf of Finland atop a 16 meter high bluff. Upon visiting Peterhof you will see the Upper Gardens first laid out with several fountains before the Grand Peterhof Palace. The Lower Gardens are larger than the Upper Gardens and lie along the Gulf of Finland.
The Palace is the main attraction and started as a small mansion built for Peter the Great. Over the years and through the period of the war, the palace suffered damages but some of the original interior remains much as it was during the 18th century. Since the time of Peter up until the early 20th century it was the official summer palace of the Russian Tsars.
During the reign of Elizabeth, Bartolomeo Rastrelli added to the Palace in his unique Baroque style. Rastrelli created the Northern Halls, the Main Staircase, and the Ball Room. After World War II much of his gilt carving had to be restored and it was, right down to the last detail including mirrors, plafonds, and silk to ensure the charm of the imperial residence was intact. The Lower Gardens contain most of the prominent fountains. The Lower Gardens span an area of 102 hectares (~252 acres) and are split in half by the canal into the eastern and western sections.
Firstly, one of the oldest structures designed was the canal leading up to the Grand Palace. The canal was sketched by Peter I himself and its construction began in 1715. The Lower Gardens were designed in a French style and are a showcase of the talents of Peter I, his sense of style, and his sense of humor. There are several other small museums in Peterhof including a bicycle museum and a playing card museum.