Day 3: Monday
We got up a bit later than planned but after a lovely cup of coffee headed out to get the speedboat to Peterhof. We boarded the boat just behind the Hermitage and it was a quick boat ride to get to Peterhof, a lot less smelly than the local busses.
The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens laid out under the direction of Peter the Great.
As we walked in we were greeted by fountains and we looked straight out onto the palace with all its golden fountains, it was stunning!!!
There was a Grand Cascade right in front of the palace. The fountains of the Grand Cascade are all gold and the biggest one depicts the moment when Samson tears open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia’s victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War, and is doubly symbolic. The lion is an element of the Swedish coat of arms, and one of the great victories of the war was won on St Samson’s Day. From the lion’s mouth shoots a 20-meter-high vertical jet of water, the highest in all of Peterhof.
Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens including the Grand Cascade. The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source.
We spent nearly 3 hours just walking around the gardens and looking at all the statues and fountains.
The many fountains located here exhibit an unusual degree of creativity.
Several fountains are designed with the specific purpose of soaking visitors. Two take the form of gangly trees rigged with jets that activate when someone approaches. Another, disguised as an umbrella with a circular bench set around the stem, drops a curtain of water from its rim when someone enters to take a seat. Needless to say we were sprayed a couple of times; luckily it was a lovely hot summer’s day so quite refreshing.
We had dinner at a lovely Greek Tavern in town when we got back then went back to the hostel to rest our tired feet!