Peterhof – capital of fountains
Poltava victory over the Swedes in 1709 inspired Russian Tsar Peter I on creativity. He wanted to have summer residence, garden and park ensemble, such as the French Versailles, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Peter himself went to the high place and made first sketches.
Following the sea route from St. Petersburg to Kronstadt, Peter often approached shore, where there was a simple manor. He rested there. But the manor was not enough for the king-winner. He needed the palace as the French king Louis XIV had near Paris. The best architects of the time Johann Braunstein and Andreas Schlüter managed the building.
The official date of Peterhof’s foundation is considered 1712, when Saint Petersburg became the capital of the Russian state. For two years the level of the Upper Garden and the Lower Park was increased, the Grand Canal was dug. In 1716, well-known architect Jean-Baptiste Leblond, whom Peter had met abroad, came to Peterhof. He was assigned the architect-general. Leblond developed a system of water supply of the Grand Cascade, offered to put the sculptures. After his death in 1719, Italian architect Niccolo Michetti became the manager. His main achievement was the development of fountains, cascades, pavilions, pergolas and trellis fences.
After the victory of the Great Northern War (1700-1721), Peter began to spend more time in Peterhof. About 5000 people worked there.
The official opening of Peterhof was held on August 15, 1723. Peter himself showed outlandish gentlemen complex of palaces which was built in a remarkably short period of time. At that time it included the Upper Garden and the Lower Park, the Upper Chamber, Monplaisir and Marly Palaces, the Hermitage Pavilion and over 20 wooden galleries and pavilions. Grand Cascade and 16 fountains already worked.
Peter I died in 1725. Elizabeth I, Catherine II and Paul I continued the construction of Peterhof. In the XIX century, the garden was expanded during the reign of Nicholas I.
During the Great Patriotic War the Nazis occupied Peterhof and damaged it. Some buildings, including English palace, were lost forever. The reconstruction took decades.
Peterhof is called the capital of fountains.