Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Russian Versailles - Peterhof Palace and Park

Sadly none of my pictures give the feeling of the vastness of the Peterhof gardens. It is a miracle of renovation having been virtually destroyed during WWII and is a tribute to the Russian spirit as it sparkles today. 
Peter the Great of Russia originally had a summer hunting lodge along the Gulf of Finland and enjoyed the property to such a degree that after a visit to Versailles he decided to create his own interpretation. One of the most interesting aspects of the park is the unique fountain and cascade system, it has 176 water features that are fed by gravity and can run up to ten hours with nary a pump. This, unlike Versailles which in Louis's time required courteriers to run about and turn off a grand fountain to supply enough pressure to start the next as the King passed by! The gravity fed pressure system of Peterhof was a true engineering marvel of the day.
The park of Peterhof was a place of relaxtion and amusement for royalty. Peter apparently liked playing jokes on his guests showing them the folly fountains; trees and tulips spraying water suddenly, soaking startled guests! 
Although Peterhof park is smaller than Versailles in size it certainly echoes the variety of garden landscapes and styles in a much shorter growing and harsher climate, an achievement in itself!

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