The Hermitage Museum (which we'll get to tomorrow) was Peter the Great's winter palace and stands in the midst of the city. Like all great rulers, Peter also needed a summer palace out in the country, and like all great rulers, he wanted it to be like Versailles.
It's interesting to see Peterhof because, despite its very Baroque style, it is at the same time a very new palace. The front moved through here on the way to St. Petersburg, and the Nazis left Peterhof like this:
Shortly after the end of the war, local volunteers began cleaning, rebuilding, and restoring the palace. The work is still going on, but the palace today stands very much like it did 300 years ago:
An old palace, built in the last few decades.
The palace itself is closed Mondays, but Boris was still able to show us around the gardens.
The front yard has neatly-trimmed tree-lined paths that lead past fountains and created shaded paths like this one which shows the aftermath of the earlier rainstorm:
There are several marble statues around, all with Greek mythology figures. This one was my favorite:
It's probably Zephyr or Aeolus, one of the wind gods, but I think the artist perfectly captured the "Oh, <<bouff>>" French expression of shrugging and puffing out one's cheeks.
We walked from the front yards around this chapel:
to see the magnificent fountains that lead into the lower gardens:
With checkerboard tiles, stone urns, a variety of types of fountains, gold Gods, and a view of the Gulf of Finland, the back terrace is breathtaking.
The fountains are all powered by water pressure, and the precision of the design all the more impressive when you notice that the peaks of the waters are level even though the spouts are at different levels along the stairs.
We walked down the stairs to admire the center fountain, nicknamed, according to Boris, "Samson taking a shower"
and followed the canal to see the Czar's little boat:
A gilt swan fit for Marie Antoinette
and then we wandered through part of the gardens to see the sights:
This "checkerboard" fountain was only completed two weeks ago!
Catherine the Great's little cottage
And here's Boris, pointing out our route on the map:
Even with only a little bit of time there and without access inside, the trip to Peterhof is well worth the visit!