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The Fountains of Peterhof

The fountains of Peterhof are one of Russia's most famous tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors every year. Fountains were intrinsic to Peter the Great's original plans for Peterhof - it was the impossibility of engineering sufficiently powerful jets of water that prompted him to move his attentions from the Strelna site to Peterhof - and subsequent generations competed with their predecessors to add grander and ever more ingenious water features to the parkland surrounding the Grand Palace.

  • Masque - detail of a fountain in Peterhof near St Petersburg, Russia
    Masque - detail of a fountain in Peterhof
  • Grand Cascade in Peterhof near Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Grand Cascade in Peterhof
  • Oranzhereiny Fountain depicting a triton grappling with the jaws of sea monster in Peterhof, St Petersburg, Russia
    Oranzhereiny Fountain depicting a triton grappling with the jaws of sea monster
  • Menager Fountain in Peterhof, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Menager Fountain in Peterhof
  • Chess Hill or Dragon Hill Cascade in Peterhof, outside St Petersburg, Russia
    Chess Hill or Dragon Hill Cascade in Peterhof
  • Oak trick fountain in Peterhof, outside St Petersburg, Russia
    Oak trick fountain in Peterhof

The most famous ensemble of fountains, the Grand Cascade, which runs from the northern facade of the Grand Palace to the Marine Canal, comprises 64 different fountains, and over 200 bronze statues, bas-reliefs, and other decorations. At the centre stands Rastrelli's spectacular statue of Samson wrestling the jaws of a lion. The vista of the Grand Cascade with the Grand Palace behind it, the first sight to great visitors who arrive in Peterhof by sea, is truly breathtaking. The Grotto behind the Grand Cascade, which was once used for small parties, contains the enormous pipes, originally wooden, that feed the fountains.

Elsewhere in the park, the range and diversity of fountains is astounding, from further monumental ensembles like the Chess Cascade and the Pyramid Fountain, to the ever-popular Joke Fountains, including one which sprays unwary passers-by who step on a particular paving stone.

The official opening of the fountains at Peterhof, which usually takes place at the end of May, is an all-day festival, with classical music, fireworks and other performances, as each section of the park's fountains is turned on one by one.

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