The City By The Sea: The Great Fountains Of The Peterhof

The Peterhof, otherwise known as “Capital of Fountains,” is one of the largest palace-garden complexes in the world. It was designed and constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries by Peter the Great. Nestled along the south coast of the Gulf of Finland, the Peterhof is known for its lush gardens, spacious parks, pavilions, palaces and towering fountains and cascades.

The most remarkable feature of the Peterhof is the Garden Fountains which balance on the edge of a 16-meter terrace. It overlooks the Gulf of Finland on one side, and the Grand Cascade, which is notable for its gilded sculptures and silvery water jets, on the other. Water can be seen rippling down two sets of huge stone steps which flank the jet of the Samson fountain that is located in the center of the Grand Cascade.

The pool of water at the bottom of the Grand Cascade is then pushed into the Sea Canal which is one of Peterhof’s earliest and most amazing water structures. It complements the natural landscape as well as contributes to the character of classical European architecture. The Sea Canal is lined with gilded mascarons and granite. It’s made up of 14 fountain basins and comes bordered with powerful jets which spray water across the rectangular-shaped canal.

The canal separates the park-like lower grounds of the Peterhof into the eastern and western sections. The eastern section contains the Roman fountains, the Sun, the Pyramid, the Chessboard Hill Cascade and the Fountains of the Palace of Monplaisir. The western section houses the bell (cloche) fountains, the Economical Fountains, the Golden Hill Cascade, Marly Palace and the fountains of the Hermitage Pavilion.

It was Peter the Great who hand-selected the location of the Peterhof. Its land geography is characterized by a number of natural water reservoirs which are fed by underground springs. These tenants of water supply which had been discovered and utilized by Peter are still being used up to this day.

Interestingly, the Peterhof is currently home to 150 fountains and four cascades. Every year, it draws thousands of visitors who are more than curious to discover and experience the “Capital of Fountains” and the breathtaking water features which remain unmatched even by the modern standards of the present time.