Peter the Great was the first to realize that he would need not only a new capital and naval base on the Finnish Gulf, but also a country palace. He commissioned a Versailles by the sea from the French architect, Alexandre J.-B. Leblond, and like many of the Czar's ideas it was soon translated into reality. Peterhof, now Petrodvorets, came into being. Its palaces, however, owe more to Peter's daughter, Elizabet, and her architect Rastrelli.

Peterhof is a case in point. It lies on the Southern shore of the Finnish Gulf, some 29 km. from the center of St. Petersburg. To appreciate it best, start at the square where the bus terminus is. On its northern side there is a balustrade, beyond which a green slope descends steeply to a small plain stretching right to the shoreline. This is Lower Park. Having had this first view, now continue walking towards the Grand Palace - built to the Elizabeth baroque style is a composition center of the Ensemble. From here a marble terrace gives you a magnificent view over the Grand Cascade, made up of three waterfalls, 64 fountains, and 37 statues. The system of waterworks has remained virtually unchanged since 1721. Ducts and pipes which convey the water over a distance of some 20 km. work without pumping stations: the water flows downhill, while the fountains operate on the principle of communicating vessels. The centerpiece of the waterfalls is a gilded Samson, tearing apart the jaws of a lion from which a jet of water spurts into the air. The statue represents the Russian victory over the Swedes at Poltava on St. Samson's day. From the foot of the Grand Cascade there is the Sea Canal leading into the Gulf of Finland, flanked by formal gardens in the French style and by many more statues, fountains and cascades.

In the Lover Park located the very attractive 18th-century buildings. Especially charming is Monplaisir, Peter's favorite palace, built between 1714 and 1716 by the same architects who worked on the Grand Palace. Two more palaces stand in the grounds - the Hermitage Pavilion and the Marly ` Palace, both datingback to the same period. The Grand Palace crowns the hill. The location apart, little remains of Peter's original concept executed by Leblond, Braunstein, and Miketty. It was under Elizabeth that Rastrelli accomplished yet another blend of medieval Russian architecture and Baroque. The State apartments are sumptuously appointed, especially the Partridge Drawing Room with brilliantly restored silk-covered walls adorned with the birds which give the room name.
The White Dining Room is early Classical style with white moldings, and the large Throne Room used in the past for great receptions and official ceremonies, are well worth visiting.

The Upper Garden, which you can enter from the Grand Palace, has as its focal point the Neptune fountain originally made in Nuremberg in the 17th century and then bought by the czars. During the World War II the three-tiered group of bronze sculptures was carried away by the Germans. It was eventually recovered and reinstalled in 1956.
There are two different ways of getting to Peterhof from St. Petersburg. The easiest is by car, minivan or coach, and - best of all - by hydrofoil from Palace (Dvortsovaya) Embankment. The Peterhof's disembarkation (located in the Lover Park) is about 30 minutes' hydrofoil ride from the city center. However, this option is available only from 09.05 till 30.09.

Duration of the private tour - 4 hours
Number of pax Car Minivan Coach
1 2 3 4 - 9 10 - 14 15 - 19
Price are in Rubles / person 10350 5850 4650 3780 2450 2300
Price includes:
entrance fees (Grand Palace and Lower Park) transportation by car, minivan or coach assistance of an English-speaking guide (German, French, Spanish, and other languages upon request)
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