Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday May 20 - St. Petersburg Peterhof

DAY 12, Friday - Peterhof Park Tour
This morning, travel to Peterhof, located southwest of St. Petersburg, overlooking the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. You will have an opportunity to view the series of palaces and gardens, laid out on the orders of Peter the Great, and sometimes called the "Russian Versailles." Your tour includes a guided visit to the Lower Park and an outside view of the Palace. This evening, celebrate your final night abroad while dining onboard.

Rivers & Canals in St. Petersburg (PM)
St. Petersburg is famous for its numerous rivers and canals, as well as the bridges that span the magnificent palaces and churches on the banks. The bridges and the embankments are beautifully decorated with iron cast fences, lanterns and sculptures. You will enjoy seeing a different perspective of St.Petersburg.
Overnight: Cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Peterhof! Definitely my highlight (hard to choose, though) of St. Petersburg!!

One of St. Petersburg's most famous and popular visitor attractions, the palace and park at Peterhof (also known as Petrodvorets) are often referred to as "the Russian Versaille", although many visitors conclude that the comparison does a disservice to the grandeur and scope of this majestic estate.

Versailles was, however, the inspiration for Peter the Great's desire to build an imperial palace in the suburbs of his new city and, after an aborted attempt at Strelna, Peterhof - which means "Peter's Court" in German - became the site for the Tsar's Monplaisir Palace, and then of the original Grand Palace. The estate was equally popular with Peter's granddaughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered the expansion of the Grand Palace and greatly extended the park and the famous system of fountains, including the truly spectacular Grand Cascade.

Improvements to the park continued throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Catherine the Great, after leaving her own mark on the park, moved the court to Pushkin, but Peterhof once again became the official Imperial Residence in the reign of Nicholas I, who ordered the building of the modest Cottage Palace in 1826.

Like almost all St. Petersburg's suburban estates, Peterhof was ravaged by German troops during the Second World War. It was, however, one of the first to be resurrected and, thanks to the work of military engineers and over 1,000 volunteers, most of the estate's major structures had been fully restored by 1947. The name was also de-Germanicized after the war, becoming Petrodvorets, the name under which the surrounding town is still known. The palace and park are once again known as Peterhof.

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