Peterhof Palace – a tale of Tsars and gold

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg is one of those cities that has so many beautiful sites that you have to pick and choose. Unless of course you have a whole month to wander around and explore the entire city. The thing about Saint Petersburg is that much of its uniqueness is in the details; like the churches with golden spires and saturated blue facades. Or something as simple as taking the metro, which is as ornate as the palaces of the Tsars!

And speaking of palaces.. I had already visited The Hermitage, which served as the official Tsar residence until the revolution in 1917, but I had one more palace I wanted to see before I left, and that was the spectacular UNESCO site: Peterhof Palace.

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THE RUSSIAN VERSAILLES

Now, Peterhof is about an hour away from Saint Petersburg and it took me most of the day to visit. But before we get into all that, let’s run through the history real quick.

Peterhof Palace was built in 1703 by Peter the Great (hence the name, which means Peter’s court in German). Around that time, from 1700 till 1721, Russia was at war with Sweden, and a decisive battle in Ukraine in 1709 became the turning point of the whole war. The Tsar wanted to celebrate this victory so he dedicated Peterhof to the victory over Karl XII. He got the inspiration for the palace design during a trip to France where he saw Chateau de Versailles.

If you’ve been to Versailles, you can probably see the resemblance. However, one grand difference is the fountain complex, which is conceived on a much larger scale with gilded figures and several springs of sparkling water. To be fair, he did a darned good job!

Saint Petersburg, Russia

GRAND PETERHOF PALACE IS A MUST

The main attraction in Peterhof is the beautiful Lower Park with 150 fountains and 4 cascades. I arrived at Peterhof from the waterside so I entered at the most impressive cascade called the Great Cascade. It’s situated in front of the Grand Palace which was the gala summer imperial residence for 200 years.

After walking around the cascade, I went to stand in line for the Grand Palace. There are several palaces to check out at Peterhof Palace, but this is by far the most impressive. It’s built in Baroque style and boasts regal facades and elegant ornate interiors, porcelain vases, beautifully decorated fireplaces and pompous parquet floors and large mirrors.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Grand Peterhof Palace and the Grand Cascade (The Lower Gardens)

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

AND THEN I HAD TO PAY ENTRANCE FEE TWICE

After touring the Grand Palace, I ventured to the Upper Gardens and had to learn the hard way that once you go out of the Lower Park, you have to pay entrance fee to re-enter. Even if you’re only heading straight to the hydrofoil boat to get back to the city. So that was annoying, especially because there weren’t any warning signs saying: “Hey foreigners, when you see a sign that says EXIT, it means you’re ex-it-ing.”

But the gardens were pretty. And surprisingly huge. So it was easy to spend an hour or so at the premises until I was ready to head back. In the end, I guess it was worth the extra entrance fee.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

TIPS FOR VISITING PETERHOF PALACE

If you ask me, Peterhof Palace is a must for anyone visiting Saint Petersburg. But you should set a whole day off since it will take you at least 2 hours in transportation and 3+ hours to explore the Peterhof estate and gardens.

Here’s a few tips for visiting:

  • Entrance fee to the Lower Park, which is where you arrive with hydrofoil, is 1,000 Rubel (US $15)
  • Make the Grand Palace a priority – it’s the most impressive palace and has around 30 rooms. The admission fee is 600 Rubel (US $9), and mind that in the summer the palace is very crowded and therefore rather claustrophobic.
  • Photography and video is NOT allowed inside the Grand Palace.
  • From St. Petersburg, you can reach Peterhof by train & bus (1,5 hours), minibus (about 1 hour) or by hydrofoil (45 minutes). The hydrofoil is the most expensive option, but it is also the most comfortable.
  • Bring water and a warm sweater, even if you’re visiting in the summertime. I went there in August, and when it suddenly started raining, it got SUPER cold.
  • There’s a small cafeteria and a tiny kiosk right outside the Lower Gardens. But be aware that you have to pay entrance fee ($15) if you want back in.
  • The best time to visit is from early May to early October when the fountains are open.
  • Opening hours: Most of the areas are open from 9am to 8pm.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Have you been to Versailles or Peterhof? Which did you like the most?

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Saint Petersburg is one of those cities that has so many beautiful sites that you have to pick and choose. Unless of course you have a whole month to explore the entire city. One of the most spectacular placec in St. Petersburg is Peterhof Palace, which is easily visited on a day trip. Here's everything you need to know to plan your trip.

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Miriam

Travel blogger at Adventurous Miriam
I’m Miriam Risager, and this site has been my scrap-book, playground and home since 2013. I launched this blog as a way to share my journey, as well as share the hows, whys and wheres for other travelers.
By | 2017-04-27T12:04:04+00:00 March 27th, 2016|Destination, Europe, Fairytales, Russia, UNESCO sites|10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Stephanie March 28, 2016 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Wow! I love the detail in this post. Peterhof looks beautiful, and your photos are gorgeous!

    • Miriam March 28, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Thanks, Stephanie! Those Russian Tsars really knew how to build world-class palaces and churches 🙂

  2. Silvia March 29, 2016 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    I want to go back to Saint Petersburg (and Russia in general) soooo badly! Looks like you were super lucky with the weather, which I was not, ha.
    Silvia recently posted…The Longest Easter in the World? (It’s in Norway)My Profile

    • Miriam March 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      It actually started raining while I was there, and as usual I hadn’t brought a jacket or sweater so I almost froze to death while waiting for the boat. Oh, when do I learn! 😉

  3. Absar Ahmad April 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Miriam,
    I really loved your site and would love see lot of new posts from you. God Bless You! Have a great time ahead.

    • Miriam April 5, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for dropping by, Absar! I have a lot of posts coming up about Thailand and Europe 🙂 Come back any time.

  4. Leigh | Campfires & Concierges April 14, 2016 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    How gorgeous! I never considered St Petersburg as a destination before, but your posts are certainly changing that!
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted…The Dining Room at Kendall CollegeMy Profile

    • Miriam April 15, 2016 at 7:27 am - Reply

      Thanks, Leigh! It’s a really beautiful place – unique even. I highly recommend going.

  5. Valeriia May 5, 2016 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Looking at your pictures made me realize that we shouldn’t have visited Peterhof in… February 😀 The dullest time of the year, even there.
    Valeriia recently posted…Mini Kyiv: Photo WalkMy Profile

    • Miriam May 6, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

      What a shame, the weather can really ruin the experience! Better luck next time 😀

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