History of Peterhof Palace
Peterhof Palace was built in 1723 on behalf of Peter the Great. “Peterhof” means “Peter’s court” in Dutch. At the beginning of the 18th century, Pierre-le-Grand traveled extensively in Europe. When he returned to Russia, he wanted to give a new impetus to the Russian Empire, drawing on what he had learned in Holland. This is how he founded St. Petersburg and also the Peterhof Palace.
Peterhof is inspired by the Palace of Versailles. Pierre-le-Grand to himself stayed in Versailles in the spring of 1717. This is where he plans to surpass the fountains of Versailles. To find out more about this trip, you can read online “Journal de Régence” on the BNF website. The account of the Tsar’s journey (written Czar at that time) begins on page 263. Peter the Great brought his personal touch to the palace. Dozens of sketches and notes referring to them are kept.
What to see in Peterhof?
The Peterhof complex consists of 3 parts:
- The great palace;
- a lower garden on one side of the palace, overlooking the Gulf of Finland;
- an upper garden, on the other side of the palace, overlooking the interior;
The Great Palace of Peterhof
Majestic. 268m of facades.
The Grand Palais de Peterhof has several ceremonial rooms, paintings, and Chinese cabinets decorated in the Oriental style. One of the rooms is covered with 368 paintings.
You should know that this is a reconstruction because the Nazi army burned down and blew up the palace during the Second World War. The reconstruction was completed in 1964.
In order to be able to visit this gorgeous palace and its fountains, you will need to get a touristic visa to Russia. Check out my article for a full, step-by-step guide.
Good to know: There are often many people waiting to access the palace, even with a ticket purchased on the Internet.
Find out more about the Grand Palace on the official website.
The lower garden
The lower garden of Peterhof Palace is based on the model of a French garden. Many trees have since grown, but the geometric structure of this type of garden is still present. The garden was created by Jean Baptiste Le Blond, a student of André Le Nôtre, the creator of the Versailles gardens.
It is in this garden that the most beautiful fountains are located. In particular, the large waterfall that overlooks a canal that flows into the Gulf. The garden is very large: 102ha.
It is divided into three parts:
- West: called “Marly”, reference to the castle of Marly-Le-Roi;
- East: called “My pleasure”;
Among the important elements to be found in the lower garden are:
- the colonnades of Voronikhin;
- the great waterfall;
- the labyrinth;
- the Samson Fountain;
- the fountains on the terrace;
- the Nymph and Danaide fountains;
- the fountain alley;
- the Triton Fountain;
- the cascade of chess;
- the Roman fountains.
It is very pleasant to walk in this garden. We spent several hours there.
Find out more about the lower garden on the official website.
The upper garden
The upper garden also contains many fountains and sculptures. However, it is different in its construction and style. There are statutes of German and Italian artists. The upper garden is smaller: 15ha.
Find out more about the upper garden on the official website.
As we have said, Pierre-le-Grand’s objective was to make fountains more impressive than those of Versailles. So there are many fountains. 176 fountains to be precise. They are supplied with water without a pump. It is gravity that drives the pumps through a water system. It’s an implementation of Marly’s machine.
Be careful, the fountains are not in operation all year round.
The most famous fountains are:
- the great waterfall
- Samson Fountain
The Grand Cascade of Peterhof
This is the classic photo of Peterhof: the great waterfall with the palace at the back. Dozens of water jets, hundreds of sculptures and marble. There is a cave behind the large waterfall that can be visited with a different ticket.
Find out more about the Grand Cascade of Peterhof on the official website.
The Samson Fountain
At the end of the great waterfall stands the sculpture “Samson crushing the lion’s jaws”.
Learn more about the Samson Fountain on the official website.
How to get to Peterhof
Peterhof Palace is located 30km from downtown St. Petersburg. Peterhof can be reached by:
- Boat (Meteor hydrofoil): from about mid-April to mid-October;
- Car or taxi;
- Commuter train.
You can also consult the maps of St Petersburg on which you will find the routes by public transport.
Peterhof (Meteor) Hovercraft
This is the most convenient way to get to Peterhof. “Hydrofoil” boats leave from downtown St. Petersburg, behind the Winter Palace, to reach the quayside directly into Peterhof’s gardens. These boats are called “Méteor”. The journey is fast and comfortable. On the way to the Gulf of Finland, you will see a different view of St. Petersburg.
Price: ~1600 / 19 pounds rubles per round trip
Frequency: Every 15 minutes
Timetable: from 10am
Opening period: approximately from April 15 to October 15
Wharf in St. Petersburg: Admiralty Embankment and Palace Embankment. See on Google Maps.
Peterhof dock: Lower park dock. See on Google Maps.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket offices on the platform, in St Petersburg and Peterhof. You can also buy them on the Internet. There are several websites in English:
Bus to Peterhof
Buses 200 and 210 go to Peterhof Palace in just under an hour. You have to take the bus from the metro station “Avtovo” (line 1, red). For the total journey from the city center, it takes 1h30.
Bus number: 200 and 210
Price: 80 rubles / 1 pound (one bus ticket + one metro ticket)
Duration: 1h30 (40mn by metro and 50mn by bus)
Frequency: Every hour
Opening hours: all day long
Stop in St Petersburg: “Avtovo” metro station. See on Google Maps.
Stop in Peterhof: Pravlenskaya Street. See on Google Maps.
Suburban train to Peterhof
First of all, you should know that the train station is quite far from the Palace. Plan a 30-minute walk. There are of course buses that connect in about 20 minutes (see details below). Commuter trains are managed by the national railway company.
Price: 140 rubles / 1.5 pounds (train: 60 rubles + 1 bus ticket + 1 metro ticket)
Duration: 1h30 by bus (train: 40mn, bus: 20mn, metro: 30mn)
Frequency: Every hour
Opening hours: all day long
Stop in St. Petersburg: Baltic Station (Baltic Station / Baltiski vokzal). See on Google Maps.
Stop in Peterhof: New Peterhof station. See on Google Maps.
You can buy your train ticket on the railway website. The station in St. Petersburg is called “SANKT-PETERBURG-BALTII”. The resort in Peterhof is called “NOVYI PETERGOF”.
The journey from Peterhof station to the Palace
The nearest station to the Palace is “New Peterhof”. This is important because there is also the “Old Peterhof” station. You can take buses 350, 351A, 351б or 356. The price of the ticket is the same, 40 rubles. The nearest stop to Peterhof Palace is “Pravlenskaya Street” (see Google Maps).
Peterhof Palace in Saint Petersburg – Prices
You have to buy a separate ticket for each part of Peterhof:
- Lower garden: 900 rubles / 10.5 pounds / free in winter
- Grand Palais Peterhof: 1000 rubles / 11.5 pounds
- The cave of the great waterfall: 500 rubles / ~ 6 pounds
- Upper garden: free of charge
There are several pavilions that can also be visited. The price of the ticket can go up to 500 rubles / ~6 pounds. There are student discounts on presentation of proof of purchase.
There is an audio guide in English for the Grand Palace of Peterhof which costs 500 rubles / 6 pounds.
Peterhof Palace Opening hours
The fountains are only in operation from May to October. The palace and gardens are open all year round.
During the week:
- Lower garden: from 9 AM to 8 PM;
- Fountains: from 10 AM to 6 PM;
- Grand Palais: from 10:30 AM to 7 PM (except on Mondays);
- Upper garden: from 9 am to 8 pm;
- Lower garden: from 9 AM to 9 PM;
- Fountains: from 10 AM to 8.45 PM;
- Grand Palais: from 10:30 AM to 9 PM;
- Upper garden: from 9 AM to 9.30 PM;
On Sundays and/or public holidays:
- Lower garden: from 9 AM to 8 PM;
- Fountains: from 10 AM to 7 PM;
- Grand Palais: from 10:30 AM to 7 PM;
- Upper garden: from 9 AM to 8 PM;
Good to know! From April 29 to September 29, there are specific entry times for individual visitors and groups. Visitors only:
Tuesday to Friday and Sunday: 12:00-14:00 and 16:15-17:45;
Saturday: 12:00-14:00 and 16:15-19:45.
Dates of operation of the Peterhof fountains
Peterhof fountains do not operate all year round due to the winter cold. The fountains are in operation from the last weekend of April to mid-October.
For 2019, the Peterhof fountains will be in operation from 29 April 2019 to 14 October 2019.
An opening and closing ceremony is organized and gives rise to a sound and light show. The opening ceremony takes place on the 3rd weekend in May. The closing ceremony takes place 1 month before the closing, i.e. mid-September.
Peterhof Palace provides a practical sheet in English and Russian that outlines the prices and schedules for each pavilion, museum or palace that depends on it. Be careful, the Oranienbaum Palace depends on Peterhof, you will also find details of this palace on this page. It is very complete, but you can get lost in it. Download the 2018 practical sheet from the official website.