Excursion across Peterhof
Tourists, coming in Peterhof, pay their attention first of all on fountains. Here there are more than 40 active fountains and five cascades, decorated with sculptural compositions of personages of Esop’s fables and ancient Greek myths. It is necessary to mention that the territory of Peterhof is relatively divided by Morskoy channel (Sea channel), faced with granite and decorated with guilt ìàñêàðîíàìè, into the eastern and western parts. The channel is the transport waterway of Peterhof, by which carried out gala departure of regnant persons. In the center of Peterhof there is Lower park and the Big palace. In the western part of the park there is the palace of Marly, the Hermitage, cascade “Golden hill”, Manazherny fountains. In the eastern part – palaces Monplizer and Cottage, cascade “Chess hill”, fountains “Pyramid”, “Sun” and Roman fountain-crackers. In the center of Peterhof was built the first building – the Big palace, the country residence of Peter I and next rulers of pre-revolutionary Russia. According to historical notes, the common conception of planning the construction, and also development of some elements of architectural and fountain complexes belong to Peter I. The palace-park ensemble of the Big one included building both the palace itself and Lower park, the Morskoy channel, fountains, palaces Monpliser, Marli and the Hermitage. Erection all of this began in 1714 and had lasted for two centuries. The Big palace towers on the edge of the 16th meter terraces. With the three-stored building side two corps: church and corp under the emblem, which stretches along the terrace for 300 m. Bolshoi cascade, consisting of the Lower (Bolshoi) grottos and sculptural compositions.
Originally in place of the present Bolshoi palace were situated the Upper chambers, built in 1714-1721 by architectures I. Braunstein, J. –B. Leblon and N. Miketty. This construction, which had become the main apartments under Peter I, was rebuilt many times, but already after the death of the founder of Peterhof building stopped. It was continued by Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter I. In the time of her ruling began the flowering of architectural city life, owing to which changed the exterior and interior of the Petrov palace. Only the central part of the Upper chambers, included in the plan of the new building, has been kept. Building began in 1747 and finished in 1756. Arrangement of halls of the Big palace answers the aim of architectures to create theatrical acts. Every room has its own color, and their names are analogous: for example, “Large blue drawing-room”, “White dining-room”, “Blue reception-room”. The luxurious gilt main staircase leads to the beautiful Dancing hall, decorated with gilt fretwork and picturesque plafonds. On each side there are huge windows in 2 tiers, through which opens the panorama of Lower park. Further guests find themselves in the main suite of rooms of the palace. However, as it turned out, everything in the world is frail, even architectural interior of the palace. At that time gained in scope the new style – classicism. It couldn’t but leave its imprint in the interior of the Big palace. And in 1764-1767 J. –B. Vallen-Delamot remade the Central hall and two Chinese study. Later in 1770-s A. J. Relten reorganized the interior of the Dining room, the Large and Avan-hall. Uneasy task was set to him: it was necessary, not changing design of the floors, forms of the windows, capacity of the apartment, to decor the halls under classicism. Results of all these remakes united all styles and colors, used in the interiors. Now the building of the Big palace includes the interiors of Peter epoch, halls of severe and calm classicism, which are changed into the interiors, being embodiment of rococo principles. Here one can see also the emperor’s collection of pictures, sculptures, works of decorative art, made of china, glass, bronze. The suite of furniture, unique in its design and décor, represents the great interest. The hermitage, first in Russia, was built later in 1725. The idea of its building belongs to Peter I. It occurred to him while his traveling in Europe, where such constructions, are intended for royal persons, were much spread. By the way, the word “hermitage” originates from French and is translated as “the place of retirement”. Its building was charged to architecture I. Brauinstein in 1721. During its official opening this place was visited by wife of Peter Katherine I and noted significance and grandeur of the construction. The building is situated in the south-west from the Large pit stalls and represents a two-stored construction. On the second floor there is a balcony on oak bearing with metallic bars, having complex forged design. One of the peculiarities of the Hermitage is windows-doors, which impart unusual lightness to the erection.
Besides this the building is surrounded by a deep ditch, across which a narrow bridge lays. Inside the architectural construction there are lifts, a still-room and a hall with a table for 14 persons, and also the collection of pictures. The Marly palace is the main construction of the western part of Lower park. From it radiate three alleys: central – Marlinskaya, northern – Malibanskaya and southern – Berezovaya, which lead to the Hermitage, fountains “Adam” and “Eva”, Lion cascade, The Morskoy channel, cascade “Chess hill” and palace Monplizer. The palace-park ensemble of Marly includes small ponds, garden Venus and Paterniy and also a cascade and fountains on the parterre before it.
Outlines of the façade of the palace with lace grates of balconies and high roof reflect in the still mirror-like surface of the pond.
Building this erection began much later in comparison with other architectural objects and it started with erection two ponds: rectangular Marlinsky and half-compasses. The last one was divided while building by three radial brick partition in four sectors, which afterwards were called “Sector ponds”. In these reservoirs dwelled crucians, sazans, carps, pike perches. Marly had been built for three years – from 1720 till 1723. The first name of the palace is “Small seaside chambers”. The draft of the erection was worked out by I. Braunstein.
Originally the building consisted of one floor. However when the palace was placed under the roof, Peter I ordered to overbuild the second floor. Its erection was finished in 1723. Then the construction received the name Marly in manner of the residence of French kings le-Rua, situated in Marly near Paris. Intended for residence of noble persons, after the death of Peter I Marly turned into the museum of his private things: here was transferred his wardrobe, life goods, paintings, furniture and etc. For a long time the construction had been standing without changes. However at the end of the 19th century it turned out that walls of the palace cracked. Thus it was decided to demolish the building and rebuild it. The works were carried out by decision of architecture A. Semenov after thorough measurements of the erection. In the garden of Venus, siding with the Marlinsky pond were planted fruit trees and bushes. In the center was erected the statue to goddess of love. On the opposite bank of the pond was laid out a garden in which the statue to Adam was placed. These sculptural compositions are the part of fountains of the same name. From each of them eight alleys star-branch. The appearance of the two fountains is similar: the basin has eight planes, in its center, in the pile of tufa stones were fit out 16 fountain nozzles, out of which rush out fan-shaped jets, achieving 7-meter height. Between Berezovaya and Marlinskaya alley there is the Lion cascade, which by plan of N. Miketty was to supplement the exterior of palace Monplezir. However this project wasn’t realized. And only in 1799-1800 after working out new drafts architecture A. Voronihin created the new cascade. It was projected as a stone wall, on which were placed eight vases and figures of Hercules and Flora, who were replaced in a year after finish of building by figures of watch lions.
Besides that the cascade has two basins of different sizes. Already in 1854-1857 the cascade was rebuilt by project of architecture A. Shtakensheider: were placed 14 eigh-meter columns of Ionic order. In the center in the hill of granite lumps was erected a statue of nymph with a jug, of which water is flowing out, executed by F. Tolstoy. The present cascade impresses by its sizes: 30 m in length and 18.5 in width. The Monplizer palace is situated in the eastern part of Lower garden. To it leads Monplezirskaya alley, ending by Monplezirsky garden, laid out in 1718 by tsar’s gardener L. Garnihfelt. Here there is fountain “Sheaf”, built in form of unusual flower, “petals” of which represent 4.5-meter water jets. The fountain surrounds statues of Apollo, Vakh, Favn and Psyche, situated in the center of flower beds laid out by circle. They decorate fountains-rings, built in 1723. Here there are buildings of Banniy and Ekatherinensky corps of the Big palace. The Monplizer palace is situated on the very shore of the sea. Rush of waves is kept back by a massive granite wall, before which was placed the statue of Neptune, cast in 1716 by the draft of Peter I. The building represents glazed galleries, ending by pavilions. In the center of the palace – so called, tent, topped with a huge roof.
From the side, facing on the sea, the galleries are decorated with pilasters and bays. From the east the garden, spread before the palace is bounded by Guest gallery, the Banniy corp and the Assembly hall. In the west there is the Ekatherininsky corp, consisting of eight rooms. The main architectural element of the building and, in particular, apartments, is a grisaille Empire fresco, classical sculp, one-colored walls and smooth ceiling, sometimes with a rosette in the center.
With Lower park sides from the east park Alexandria, where is situated the palace Cottage, built by project of A. A. Menelas for wife of emperor Nicolas I, empress Alexandra Fedorovna. Its original name is “Country house of Her Majesty”. The style of the construction is dummy Gothic, the evidences of which are three-edged bay-windows, peaked pediments and high roof. In 1842-43 to it was built the Dining-hall with an open terrace and a fountain, constructed by project of A. Shtakenshteider. The Bolshoi cascade is enclosed from the south by absolutely identical two Voronihinsky colonnades, built in 1800-1803 by architecture A. Voronihin.
Twin columns support the open ground on which there are three fountains and which, in its turn, is enclosed by a pavilion with high and domic roof, also topped with fountains. The water from it is flowing down the roof into the semicircular basin at the foot. Entry into the colonnade is guarded by granite lions, graven by drafts of I. Prokofjev. The construction brilliantly emphasizes the architecture of the Morskoy (Samsonsky) channel, stretching for 600 m from the scoop of the Bolshoi cascade. Along the channel stretches the Alley of fountains, consisting of 22 flat cups.
On the whole Peterhof is very rich in its fountains. Besides the main fountain ensemble of the Bolshoi cascade, here there are fountains on terraces, Italian, Roman and French fountains, fountains of marbles benches, cascade “Chess hill”, fountains “Pyramid”, “Sun”, “Triton”, fountain-crackers (“Oaklet”, “Umbrella”, “Fir-tree”) and others.
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Very beautiful! I was there with my Russian wife many years ago.