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Peterhof's Famous Water Fountains and Waterfalls
Russian Estate boasts more than 100 water fountains and waterfall cascades
|Peterhof, a series of palaces and gardens in Russia's is known by some as the "Russian Versailles," and features the the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain, and many other and very interesting and unique water fountains. Situated approxmately 10 miles west and 3 south of Russia's St. Petersburg, Peterhof means "Peter's "Court" or "Peter's Garden," as they were built for Peter the Great. Peterhof looks out over the Baltic Sea. The Grand Palace and the Grand Cascade are the grandest focal points of Peterhof.|
The Grand Palace at Peterhof overlooks a grandiose park that boasts fountains, statues and pavilions. The typical French style formal Upper Garden features five fountains including one depicting Neptune, the God of the Sea. The Lower Garden lies between the Grand Palace and the seashore and boasts the world's largest system of fountains. The Peterhof fountain system, comprising three large cascades and more than 120 water fountains, was designed in the 18th century by the engineer V. Tuvolkov. The waters of the famous Grand Cascade, located directly below the Grand Palace, descend into a pool called the “Scoop,” that in 1730 received the Samson Fountain, named for the Biblical story of Samson opening the lion's mouth. The metaphor was chosen to symbolize the victory of Russia over Sweden in the Great Northern War. The lion, a symbol found on the coat of arms of Sweden, shoots a 20-meter high (66 feet) water jet—the tallest at Peterhof-- from its mouth. Notably, one of the great battles of this war was won on St. Samson's Day. The original statue, created by Mikhail Kozlovsky, was taken by the Germans during the Second World War, and it was replaced by a replica in 1947.
The Grand Cascade’s East and West waterfall stairs flank a two-story grotto of brown stone, which houses a museum of the fountain's history. More than 200 gilded statues and decorative elements adorn the Grand Cascade. It is fascinating that the Grand Cascade waterfall and all the water fountains it comprises run with no pumps. Natural springs provide the water, which is collected in the Upper Gardens of Peterhof. Gravity pulls the water over t he Grand Cascade and the other Lower Gardens fountains. An elevated aqueduct two miles long supplies the Samson Fountain. The Sirens fountains and the Naiad and Triton fountains perch on the granite sides of the pond. The rulers of the waves are announcing the winner Samson.
The Sea Channel (also known as the Marine Canal) is lined with 20 water fountains and bisects the Lower Gardens at Peterhof. It is one of the most extensive waterworks of the Baroque period. One of these water fountains, called "The Sun," mimics the sun with a disc of water jets. The entire fountain rotates on a vertical axis, changing the sun's direction perpetually. A water-wheel on another fountain drives a small dog chasing four ducks.
Visitors get a few surprises from a few of the water fountains here! When someone comes close to two fountains that appear as trees, they are showered by the sensor-activated jets, and when a visitor tries to sit on one shaped as a bench shaded by an umbrella, the water flows to meet and soak him or her!
Two more lovely cascade water fountains are found on the famous bluff against which the Grand Cascade is situated. The Golden Mountain to the west of the Grand Palace is decorated with marble statues, while the Chess Mountain water fountain to the east simulates a chessboard with its chute of black and white tiles. The "Adam" and "Eve" water fountains are symmetrically positioned on the sides of the Sea Channel.
Peterhof's Upper Gardens also feature many water fountains, which are distributed among seven broad water-filled pools. Unlike the geometrically designed Lower Gardens the Upper Gardens are more randomly landscaped.
Most of the water fountains of Peterhof were installed long after the original construction. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist. In the beginning, the sea channel was used for a marine entrance to the Peterhof complex, and the Samson Fountain and its pedestal had not yet been installed.
A wonderful photographic display of the Peterhof fountains can be found here: http://www.ticketsofrussia.com/peterhof/gallery/
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