Now that you have an idea of your future city tour, we would like you to learn about what else is worth seeing in St. Petersburg. Extremely famous are its suburbs - little towns where the former summer imperial residences are situated.
Everybody knows a lot about Versailles in France, but have you ever heard of the Russian Versailles? It is no less famous and even more fantastic. The place is known as Peterhof (modern name is Petrodvorets) and it was founded as early as 1714 by Peter the Great. Peter saw Versailles when he traveled to France and was quite impressed. But he conceived his own fountain complex on a much grander scale. As I have already mentioned, the Northern War with Sweden was going on from 1700 till 1721. In 1709 there was a decisive battle near Poltava in Ukraine which was our brilliant victory and the turning point of the whole war. Peter wanted to commemorate this victory for ages and ages and he dedicated the whole complex of Peterhof to the victory over Karl XII. A lot of talented architects were working in Peterhof (which means "Peter's court" in Dutch). They created a magnificent ensemble that includes several palaces and three parks. The main attraction in Peterhof is its beautiful Lower Park with 150 fountains and four cascades. The main and the most amazing cascade called the Great Cascade is situated in front of the Great Imperial Palace which was the gala summer imperial residence for 200 years - from 1714 up until the October Revolution when the whole estate was nationalized by a special decree issued by Vladimir Lenin.
The Great Cascade consists of several fountains. The central and the most luxuriant one is "Samson, tearing apart the jaws of the lion". The whole composition of the fountain complex is devoted to the victory over Sweden. Samson symbolizes Russia defeating Sweden - the lion. The Great Cascade is decorated with gilded statues of ancient Greek and Roman gods and heroes, which all are allegories of different events of the Northern War. When the sun is shining, visitors are astonished at the site of the Great Cascade with its gilded figures glistening in the sun, springs of sparkling water and the whole glamour that is felt in everything. This you will not be able to find anywhere in the world, not even in Versailles.
Luxuriant are also the interiors of the Great Palace. Here you will find the richly decorated by F.-B. Rastrelli baroque halls of Elizabethan times (middle of the 18th century) with their gilded wood carvings, painted ceilings, inlaid parquet floors of precious kinds of wood, mirrors, tiled stoves and beautiful original furniture in the marquetry technique. At the same time there are halls which were redecorated by Y. Velten to the order of Catherine the Great in the classical style (1770s). You'll see less pompous but more elegant interiors with moldings to the stories of the Greek mythology, precious silk upholsteries, porcelain vases, beautifully decorated fireplaces, and much more. In the dining rooms on the tables which are laid to the fashion of those times you'll see famous services and tableware produced by Wedgwood and other renowned masters.
After visiting the Great Palace we'll return to the park where there are a great number of fountains to be seen and marveled at, among them - the Roman Fountains, Adam and Eve Fountains, the Lion Cascade, the Golden Hill Cascade and the Dragon Hill Cascade, the Sun Fountain, the Pyramid Fountain, and several trick fountains. And, of course, the Sheaf Fountain in front of the Monplaisir Palace in the very middle of a decorative little garden laid out in the historical style (as it was at the time of Peter). In French "mon plaisir" means "my pleasure", and pleasure it was indeed for Peter the Great for whom this palace was put up in the Dutch style on the bank of the Gulf of Finland.
In the Lower Park there are also other little palaces - the Hermitage and Marly. They give special touch to the surroundings. It is such an unforgettable pleasure to wander among trees, flowers, bushes, palaces, bridges, fountains and pavilions in wonderful weather! You won't be sorry to have visited Peterhof, our precious Russian pearl!