Thursday, October 01, 2009

Peterhof in Autumn

A visit to Peterhof, the palace designed by Peter the Great (1672 - 1725), is nearly requisite for the traveler to St Petersburg, Russia. Tsar Peter wanted a palace befitting the very highest of monarchs to celebrate victory over Sweden in 1709 and so he employed a staff of 5,000 ranging from architects and engineers to landscapers and sculptors.

Peterhof is especially beautiful in autumn when the muted sunlight reflects softly off the gold and gilt. One recent September, I was fortunate to be in the area for a women's retreat. Care to join us for a look around the palace gardens?

Tsar Peter found design inspiration at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. His lead architect was French and showed a fondness for gilded Baroque statues. The focal point of the fountain area is Samson Tearing Open the Jaws of the Lion, seen here, representing Russia's victory over Sweden. Here's dear Marilu in front of the gold statues and the palace. Originally from Michigan, Marilu now serves in Warsaw, Poland with her family. (Click photo to enlarge.)

What girl wouldn't feel like a princess wearing such a magnificent crown? This young lady's grandmother plaited leaf stems to make this halo, an example of the Russian creativity with autumn leaves.

Looking from the palace out toward the Bay of Finland. Water from the sea sweeps in and powers the fountains with such strength that the water jet in the central fountain shoots 22 meters into the air.

The canal enabled tsars to sail from the gulf almost to their front door.

Strolling through the gardens, we spotted these urns on pedestals.

The original Hermitage was a private dining area designed by Peter the Great to allow him uninterrupted meals with guests. The building is surrounded by a moat and access is via drawbridge. The plan was for servants to stay on 1st floor and use an elevator of some sort to hoist food upstairs to guests. Here is dear friend Samantha Farrar, who at the time was based in Simferopol, Crimea (Ukraine) working with Pioneer Bible Translators.

Heading back toward the palace, another view. Soft autumn sunlight, the sun coming in at an oblique angle being so far north. I was surprised to discover that St Petersburg is as far north as is Anchorage, Alaska.

Looking back toward the fountains and statues.

Leaving the property, the palace chapel is in the background. The palace is just behind that and the fountains and all would be off toward the right. Above is dear friend Marina Noyes of Kiev, Ukraine.

How about you, dear blog reader. Have you per chance visited Peterhof? Would this palace nurture your inner prince? Princess?


Jen said...

I actually worked in peterhof 3 days a week for 7 months. Palace 3x. I thought the best part was the lower gardens. Getting lost in the massive and randomly decorated park was my favorite part.

Linda said...

I'm a friend of Sharon Phillips...I was at Peterhof this summer. It is a beautiful palace and each time we go to Russia in the summer we try to get over to visit and walk the grounds.

Jerry said...

I was there in 1991. They were doing major renovation work in the area immediately behind the palace. One of your photographs indicates it has been completed. It is an amazing facility. I remember riding back to the city in a hydroplane vessel. It was a great experience. Catherine really impacted the interior during her time.

Jeanette said...

It's my dream - to be there. So incredibly and stunningly exquisite. Thanks for the photos to remind me to JUST DO IT!

Eileen said...

Jen, you WoRKED there? Bet YOU have some stories! Tell us m.o.r.e!

Linda, sounds as though you've been there several times. Bet you have some good photos. Hello to Sharon for me - bet you have some Good Sharon stories, too! ;)

Jerry, you were there in the *early days* sounds like, as perestroika was happening, yes? Oh that's thrilling - the idea of taking the hydrofoil back to the city. See, I'd be interested in that too! I've seen a very interesting photo, maybe you have too, of the palace in the 40's at the end of the war. Taken in b/w, of course, taken from the fountain area looking upward toward the palace. Very sad after all the destruction...sounds as though it got renovated pretty fast though afterwards, thanks to so many workers.

Jeanette- yes, it' worth the effort. Separate tickets for inside and outside access. Extra for cameras. Have to wear special slippers (they slip on over shoes). So much to absorb - but certainly worth it. Have lots of photos somewhere on this computer of visiting there...guess it was 2002. For you, visiting St Pete's is out of your way though, right? Like how do you usually get to Samara?