Visit an Imperial Estate for Russian Royalty
At first glance upon arrival, you see the typical onion dome spires that traditionally adorn Russian churches. These were gold and shiny giving you a taste of what is to come. As you start the walk into the grounds of the majestic Peterhof Palace in Petrodverts, you can see the grandeur of how Peter the Great wanted to live in the 17th century. His dream was to recreate a Versailles Palace in his homeland. It was given the name Peterhof which in German means Peter’s Court. Even after Peter the Great died, his Palace was inhabited by other Royals, most notably the Romanov Family.
Most Majestic Sprawling Park Grounds Leave You Saying WOW!
The grandest part of this complex is its grounds covering hundreds of acres and are a sight to behold. I was there on a warm, blue sky, summer day in July 2015. I was captivated by the shiny golden statues and fountains, known as the Cascade, where people line up just to take photos beside these objets d’art. Naked gilded males, 10-feet tall or so, with nothing to cover their privates. No blushing allowed. There are even costumed characters that you can take a photo with for a nominal fee. They won’t let you take photos of them however and are quick to turn around if they spy you starting to photograph them. Nevertheless, I took these awkward photos of some of the 17th century costumed characters.
Take a look at this gallery to see these many statues and fountains:
View where the Russian Royal Children were Baptized
The Palace itself was closed on the day I was there but we did manage to go inside the Imperial Chapel where the royal children were baptized. This chapel is gilded in gold but still had a quaint, country feel to it mostly due to its petite size. It’s not exactly a big church but more like a small place of worship for a large royal family which is what it was intended for. You must put on paper shoe covers to keep the floor as clean as possible.
Stroll Along the Beautiful Tree-Lined Walk to the Sea
There is a long, but very worthwhile, walk down through the lower gardens to the edges of the complex which lead to the Gulf of Finland. A nice, cool blowing breeze kept the temperature just right even though it was a beautiful, bright warm day in summer. Hundreds of different types of trees and plants fill this area, neatly taken care of, where you can wander lost in your own thoughts admiring what it must’ve been like when the Royals lived here. Serene and peaceful is the feeling I got.
See the Sights, Eat Some Food, Go Back on a Hydrofoil
Once you reach the water’s edge you can see people standing on the rocks fishing for sturgeon. I didn’t know it was sturgeon until I saw the sign. Later when we ate dinner at the relaxing Restaurant Shtandart, I saw a couple order a very large platter of a whole sturgeon fish. They devoured it together and left only the fish head carcass. I elected to have lamb stew and we also shared communal plates of salad. We ate outside on the terrace and enjoyed the lovely ambiance amidst all the greenery and sea breeze.
Methods of Transportation to and from Peterhof
In another article I wrote about getting around the city of SPB by bus, walking, or Uber/Taxi. When in Peterhof you have the option to return to St. Petersburg by bus or hydrofoil. You can purchase a St. Petersburg Card to save money and use it for most public transportation including the hydrofoil boat. Since I arrived to Peterhof by bus which took a little over an hour, I decided to try the hydrofoil boat across the Gulf of Finland to get back to St. Petersburg. It was quite choppy but fun and only took 20 minutes.
Add this day trip to your agenda the next time you are in St. Petersburg, Russia. You won’t be disappointed. Do allow the whole day, instead of a half, so you can go at your own pace. And if after touring the grounds of the Peterhof Palace you still have some time and energy, take a walk across the street to see the Peter and Paul Cathedral. (Not to be confused with the Peter and Paul Fortress where the Romanov Family is interred.) I didn't get a chance to go inside this church but did snap a quick photo of it as its colors are in earth tones and contrasted sharply against the shiny gilded Peterhof Palace.
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