For a country as ostentatiously palace-packed as Russia, you’d think you’d get your fill of ornate czar-era mansions after spending 5 or 10 minutes walking around in St. Petersburg, but Peter the Great’s summer palace brings the spectacle to a new, fountain-bedecked level. While St. Petersburg is Peter the Great’s answer to Venice, Peterhof is the czar’s answer to Versailles.
Petergof? Peterhof? Whatever. Transliterations are annoying.
As a quick day trip from St. Petersburg, it’s certainly a great getaway from the relative buzz of the city, and it’s big enough that even in the height of summer, it still won’t feel crowded. Take that, Versailles!
You know what’s weird? This was just Peter the Great’s summer palace. That’s right. He migrated like a bird. But instead of trees, he had palaces.
Also worth noting is that Petergof in Peter’s time was quite different than it is now. The new palace is much larger, and construction continued even through the 1800s, and the most memorable image of the complex, the Grand Cascade, was not nearly as grand when originally built.
World War II was not kind to the palace. Although the Russians attempted to dismantle large sections and transport or bury the artwork, they were only partially successful, and German forces looted and destroyed a great deal of the structure. Reconstruction began immediately after the war, and continues to this day.
Russians have a way of getting through the tough times, though. Nowadays you wouldn’t be able to tell of the damage done.
It must have been a pretty nice place to take a summer vacation. Pretty good for a czar, anyway. Not to be missed if you’re around. Peterhof is quite a sight, even if you’ve explored a million palaces in St. Petersburg already.