Interesting Facts About Peterhof’s Fountains
On August 20, 1721, the fountains and cascades of Peterhof were launched for the first time. The aquatic structures of Peter the Great’s summer residence, ‘the capital of fountains’, are truly unique. Every year, millions of tourists come to see them. We have made a selection of interesting facts and trivia concerning Peterhof’s fountains.
1. The fountain complex took more than a century to build.
During this time, four cascades and 173 fountains have been set up. The idea of its creation belongs to Peter the Great. The emperor, who won sea access for Russia for the first time in centuries, set out to build most amazing buildings on the shore of the Gulf of Finland.
The fountain complex in Peterhof is considered to be the most exquisite in the world.
2. Initially, the legendary fountain complex wasn’t planned for Peterhof.
Instead, the works had begun in Strelna. However, there were some problems. To operate the fountains around the clock, the water level had to be raised by 10 meters. This would’ve flooded the basins of the rivers Strelka and Kikenka, because dozens of square kilometers to the south of Peterhof road were below the chosen level.
The problem could be solved by hydraulic structures, but Peter did not want to spend money on them. And was it even worth overpaying, if the landscape to the west of Strelna was perfectly shaped by nature as a constant water supply? B. Minich, a hydraulics engineer, dared to speak against the will of the emperor. He used his calculations to prove the impossibility of ‘water extravaganza’ in Strelna and advised Peter to move the construction to Peterhof.
3. Peterhof’s fountain complex is one of the most grandiose in the world.
It was built to rival Versailles, created under Louis XIV in France. Water structures of Peterhof are considered to be the most elegant.
Peter wanted Peterhof to exceed the most famous royal residences of Europe in splendor, becoming a triumphal monument to Russia’s struggle for access to the Baltic. Both goals had been spectacularly accomplished.
4. Greatest damage to the fountains of Peterhof was caused during the Second World War.
The summer residence of Peter the Great was almost completely destroyed by artillery. Before the arrival of the German troops, over 8 thousand items of furniture and about 50 statues were evacuated from the palaces. However, not all were saved. Four largest sculptures went missing: the Samson, the Tritons, the Volkhov, and the Neva. There was no time left to evacuate them.
5. Restoration of Peterhof continues to this day. And it began in 1944!
The last large-scale reconstruction of the Grand Cascade lasted for seven years, ending with a festive launch in 1995. Work is underway now in the Great Palace, Monplaisir, Marly, and Cottage Palace.
6. The peculiarity of Peterhof’s fountains is their water supply system.
Unlike Versailles where expensive waterworks had been built, Peterhof lets the water ‘flow its course.’ The creation of the water supply system was entrusted to master Vasily Tuvolkov who studied abroad. The system he invented was based on the principle of communicating vessels. He had built the locks and the canal by which the water from Ropshinsky heights flows naturally to the storage pools of the Upper garden.
In this case, the height of the fountain jet depends on the difference between the level of the reservoir and the fountain itself. That’s why it was possible to arrange only small-height fountains in the Upper garden, whereas in the Lower park the water rushes to 16-meter height.
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