Peterhof residence is Russian Capital of fountains
Peterhof is a Dutch word which means in English - Peter's Yard. It is the most spectacular place in the suburbs of St.Petersburg. It is called "The Capital of Fountains" or "Russian Versailles". As base for it's construction was taken French Versailles which Russian Tzar Peter the Great had visited during his "Grand Embassy" to Europe in 1697. The construction of this summer residence was started at the beginning of the "Northern War" over Sweden in 1704 with a small house on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, 30km (18 miles) to the south from St.Petersburg. Peterhof converted in his favourite summer residence and symbol of Russian victory in the war. Peter the Great drew sketches of his future palaces and parks.
Parks of Peterhof have a unique fountain system which works with no pumps during whole day from 10a.m. till 5p.m. Water for Peterhof fountains is supplied by a gravity-fed water system, 22 km long, skillfully designed to exploit the natural slope of the terrain. This system does not use pumps and supplies enough water for about 180 fountains and 5 cascades of Peterhof and keeps them working for up to seven hours a day.
It was Peter's favourite Palace which was built from his own sketches. Russian tzar used to enjoy the beautiful view from the windows overlooking the Gulf of Finland. Monplaisir is decorated with over than 170 paintings mostly by Dutch masters which were collected by Peter the Great. During excursion in Monplaisir you will see also Chinese lacquer paneles, wood carvings, handmade dutch tiles.
After the death of Peter the Great, Palace became a museum of his live. During WWII and occupation Palace was used by the Nazis as an artillery site to shell Leningrad at close range. Monplaisir Palace was restored and opened for public in 1950.
Grand Palace is located in the central part of Peterhof ensemble. It stands on a 20-m natural terrace above Lower Park. In Peter's time it was a small-sized building used only for official receptions.
It was rebuilt in 1747 by Peter's daughter Elizabeth who commissioned this reconstruction to the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The main decoration of the Grand Palace in that time was gilt woodcarving. But baroque style went out of fashion soon and same interiors were redecorated in classicism. As the result in the Grand Palace side-by-side with the interiors of Peter's time growed Gala baroque rooms and elegant classical halls.
Before the Revolution Grand Palace was official summer residence of Russian royalty. During two centuries it was the venue of important state events, gala dinners and balls. More than 3000 guests took part in Peterhof receptions. More than 10 000 candles were lit on this gala occasions.
After the Bolshevik Revolution Peterhof residence was nationalized and turned into a state museum.
During WWII Grand Palace was reduced to ruins by the nazis. Only in 1957 was made new facade of the Palace. Than in 1964 was started the reconstruction of interiors. This work is still in progress. In the past Peterhof was a place of amusements for Russian royalty and nobility. Nowadays, year by year hundreds of thousands tourists from all over the world visit this "Capital of fountains".
Grand Palace is closed- Monday, last Tuesday.
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