Peter and Paul Fortress
Saint Isaac's Cathedral
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Although technically not part of Saint Petersburg, I have included it in the pictures of the city because their history and geography are so closely related. In the time of Peter the Great, the sea floor just north of the Peterhof site and to the east toward St. Petersburg was too shallow for either commercial ships or warships. However, to the west of Peterhof, the sea floor dropped off to be deep enough for sea vessels. Accordingly, when Peter the Great decided to build St. Petersburg he first captured Kotlin Island clearly visible from Peterhof just to the northeast in the middle of the Gulf. At Kotlin Island he built the commercial harbor for St. Petersburg as well as the Kronstadt fortifications. Peter the Great first mentions the Peterhof site in his journal in 1705 as a good place to construct a landing for use in traveling to and from the island fortress of Kronstadt. In 1714, Peter began construction of the Monplaisir Palace based on his own sketches of the palace that he wanted close to the shoreline. On the walls of the palace hung hundreds of paintings that Peter brought from Europe. Later, he expanded his plans to include an array of palaces and gardens further inland. Each of the tsars after Peter expanded on the inland palaces and gardens of Peterhof, but the major contributions by Peter the Great were completed by 1725. Peterhof originally appeared quite differently than it does today. Many of the fountains had not yet been installed. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist. The latter was used to grow vegetables, and its three ponds for growing fish. The Samson Fountain and its massive pedestal had not yet been installed in the Sea Channel, and the channel itself was used as a grand marine entrance into the complex. Perhaps the most important change augmenting Peter's design was the elevation of the Grand Palace to central status and prominence. The addition of wings, undertaken between 1745 and 1755, was one of the many projects commissioned from the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli by Elizabeth of Russia. The Grand Cascade was more sparsely decorated when initially built. Peterhof was captured by German troops in 1941 and held until 1944. In the few months that elapsed between the outbreak of war in the west and the appearance of the German Army, employees were only able to save a portion of the treasures of the palaces and fountains. An attempt was made to dismantle and bury the fountain sculptures, but three-quarters, including all of the largest ones, remained in place. The occupying forces of the German Army largely destroyed Peterhof. Many of the fountains were destroyed, and the palace was partially blownup and left to burn. Restoration work began almost immediately after the end of the war and continues to this day.
Identifier: 161, Last Accessed: 2017-07-25 11:20:04
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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.