Thursday's Child: Peterhof gardens, St Petersburg, Russia

Thursday, April 4, 2013
The Grand Cascade
The calendar says spring, but the weather here still says winter.  What better time to reminisce about some of the gorgeous gardens we've seen?  And after I've written about these wonderful gardens for the next four weeks, I hope spring will have arrived for real.
Monplaisir Palace
The first garden I'm writing about this month is the elaborate complex at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.  As impressive as the palace was, the gardens are what we remember.  Peter the Great had travelled to Versailles and, being amazed with what he saw, decided to build his own version.
Fountain depicting Samson opening the jaws of a lion
The Grand Cascade is directly behind and below the palace, and fulfilled Peter's dreams of designing gardens to rival those of Versailles.  The Cascade includes 60 fountains and 250 statues. The Samson Fountain is perhaps the greatest, and commemorates the Russian defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War in the early eighteenth century.
Wooded areas of the Lower Garden
The number of fountains both in the Grand Cascade and throughout the property is amazing.  To mention just a few, they depict not just Samson, but also Adam and Eve, the tritons, Bacchus and Satyr, and a nymph.  Others include the Orangerie Fountain, Dragon Cascade, Pyramid Fountain and the Marly Cascade.  Peter loved the water and the sea, and it's no surprise that the property was full of canals, cascades and fountains, and that his favourite residence on the site, Monplaisir, sat next to the Gulf of Finland.
Adam's fountain
The trick fountains are one of the most entertaining features of Peterhof.  Unsuspecting guests might relax on the bench below, only to be sprayed with a sudden burst of water from a hidden fountain.  There were at least two other trick fountains that we saw (The Umbrella and the Oak fountain) that shoot water out when it's least expected.
Braving one of the trick fountains
Like so much of St. Petersburg, Peterhof and the gardens were badly damaged after the Second World War.  It was only because of an enormous volunteer effort by the citizens of Russia that the estate was restored so beautifully.  And in a city that's home to stunning palaces, world-renowned art and a breathtaking church, the gardens hold their own as a gorgeous place to visit -- designed by a tsar and updated by his heirs, but now belonging to the people.



22 comments:

Caroline - All That I'm Eating said...

What an amazing place to visit!

I Wilkerson said...

How beautiful--and you are right, the gardens look especially refreshing this cold spring!

Jess said...

This looks gorgeous! With Spring coming into the picture again, I'm getting the itch to start gardening...too bad we're scheduled to get snow this weekend :( Boo on Colorado :)

Pachecopatty said...

Lovely photos! I like the idea of sharing the most beautiful gardens while waiting for warmer weather to arrive. This is one garden that I would love to visit-how wonderful you traveled to St. Petersburg with your family.

Natalie G said...

Amazing pics! Would love to visit.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Wow! Sounds like such a gorgeous place to visit. I'd love if you adopted me so you could cook for me and take me on your fabulous trips. Ha!

Belinda said...

Simply luscious gardens!!

Barbara said...

Was really pleased with this post, Beth.
I used to plan fun trips for the Junior League sustainers here in Boca...we went on about 10. I quit when they all voted to go to St. Petersburg. :) Much as I wanted to go, I'm not a travel agent, merely a volunteer member and did not want the responsibility for an overseas trip. Things were difficult enough with U.S. based trips. As a result, my big opportunity was missed. Hopefully, I'll get there in the future.

Valerie said...

A fountain that's hidden below a bench - this is my kind of fountain. :D

Thanks for bringing some much needed garden-ry to the still-chilly month of April!

Claire Davis said...

Truly gorgeous! Its chilly and rainy here, SO looking forward to spring!

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers, it means a lot :)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, what a lovely idea to post about extraordinary gardens while we are all still waiting for springtime to arrive - the weather has been quite dreadful here as well and it is so nice to be looking at these beautiful pictures of the exquisite Peterhof Gardens in St. Petersburg!

Gloria Baker said...

Beth absolutely nice pictures!!

bakewithjill.com said...

Love this! Gardens and fountains are my favorite things to see when traveling.

Liz Berg said...

I think we'll actually have above normal temperatures tomorrow...we'll all been waiting for this! Wow, what stunning gardens! My parents have been to St. Petersburg a couple of times...and now I want to go, too! Have a wonderful weekend, Beth~

yummychunklet said...

What a pretty fountain!

Food Gal said...

I've always wanted to go there to see the majestic onion-domed churches. Thanks for "showing'' us around the city, vicariously. ;)

Guru Uru said...

So much history in this beautiful place :D

Cheers
CCU

Monet said...

Ah! Thank you for reminding me that spring will indeed come. What beautiful gardens. Thank you for taking me to Saint Petersburg!

Julia said...

Breathtaking pictures! St. Petersburg is so beautiful. It's always been my dream to go there, explore the history, experience white nights. That city just has a certain mood.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I didn't get to see it when I was in St. Petersburg. It looks amazing.

Kathy said...

Gorgeous photos! Looks like a lovely place to visit!

Claudia said...

I've been researching Russia for almost 2 years for a play. All has been winter and ice. What delight to see the opposite!

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