St. Petersburg, Russia is a tourist destination that is jam-packed with exciting things to do and some beautiful buildings to explore. You’ll not only have the time of your life, but you’ll end up with some beautiful pictures to share as well!
One of the most popular places to visit on St. Petersburg shore excursions is Peterhof Palace and Park. Head away from the hustle and bustle of the main city and take a trip there! It’s about 50 minutes away from the cruise terminal, but I guaranteed you won’t be disappointed when you get there! I certainly wasn’t!
Peterhof Palace History
The former residence of Russian monarchs, Peterhof Palace is truly stunning. The rooms within the Grand Palace are superb and there is such a wide mix of cultures. I certainly didn’t expect to find a Chinese-themed room inside a Russian Palace, but I did and it was beautiful.
Peterhof’s history begins in 1705, when travelling chambers were built for Peter the Great on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. Soon after that, work began on the creation of a new imperial residence, which Peter determined would one day outshine all the other royal palaces of Europe. Peterhof Palace was officially opened in the presence of the tsar and foreign diplomats in August 1723.
Amazing Peterhof Palace Interior Design
Every room within the main Grand Palace has a different style. As you first enter it is quite bland, grey, white walls and nothing that I particularly thought was “grand,” but then you turn to go up the staircase — and that is when you know you have arrived somewhere special! The walls are clad in gold leaf as is the room you first enter immediately off the staircase. It really is a spectacle and you are left with your mouth agape just trying to take in all the beauty and craftsmanship that went into creating this masterpiece.
Both the Ballroom and Audience Hall are clad in gold leaf and both are incredibly impressive, you will also find a Chinese-themed room, like I mentioned earlier, which was just awesome! It really felt like it had been plucked from the orient and dropped in this amazing palace in the middle of St Petersburg.
Every room had character, I absolutely loved it! I always wonder in places like this what the furnishings would say if they could speak. I know it sounds a little crazy, but just think of the history, it must have been an incredible place to live and host dinner parties – the Wedgewood dinner set in the large Dining Room was very impressive and I am sure worth several thousand dollars or more!
Unfortunately you cannot take pictures within the Palace, but there is a rather large gift shop on the way out selling books and other souvenirs. I would recommend buying a book, at least this way you can take something home to share with friends and family and show them what it was like inside. I purchased a book titled Peterhof, it cost roughly $10, which I thought was reasonable given the enormousness of this particular tourist attraction. There is also a market in the coach park, and the vendors here also sell small souvenir programs.
Grand Cascade Fountain
The museum complex stretches across two square miles and is actually the most visited museum complex in the world. The Peterhof Museum Complex is rightfully regarded as the “capital of fountains.” Included in the state register of most valuable cultural objects of the Russian Federation, Peterhof now bears the proud title of one of the “Seven Wonders of Russia.”
Aside from the beautiful architecture, people flock here to view the incredible garden fountains and the famous Grand Cascade, in the middle of which stands Rastrelli’s spectacular statue of Samson wrestling the jaws of a lion. There are more than 200 bronze statues throughout the gardens. The fountains are turned on at the beginning of May every year, and are turned off during the harsh Russian winters.
Throughout the summer, the fountains flow with water from 11 a.m. every morning, and it is definitely a small ceremony worth seeing! You must get here early and secure your viewing spot as it gets incredibly busy, especially through July and August. One by one the fountains begin to trickle with water until the grand spectacle comes to life, accompanied by some rather impressive music.
A few hours is all you really need here, but if you want to feel like you have really seen it all and not be rushed then try and grab an extra few minutes. It really is worth it! I didn’t get the chance when I was there, but if you do then make your way right to the bottom of the steps in the gardens and walk down as far as possible, you will get some fantastic photographs of the fountains and palace from this spot. There are also other smaller buildings and gardens within the palace grounds that you must explore, just follow the sign posts and see where you end up.
Peterhof Palace really is a wonderful treat and I assure you 100 percent that you will not be disappointed!
If you’d like to see more of St. Petersburg, one of the most popular shore excursions is the Exclusive St. Petersburg Two-Day Excursion. Visas are included, and you get two full days of exploration and sites — including Peterhof Palace, Catherine’s Palace, Hermitage, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and more, plus lunches!