Russia - St Petersburg - Peterhof 01 (VR180)

The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France. Originally intending it in 1709 for country habitation, Peter the Great sought to expand the property as a result of his visit to the French royal court in 1717, inspiring the nickname of "The Russian Versailles". The architect between 1714 and 1728 was Domenico Trezzini, and the style he employed became the foundation for the Petrine Baroque style favored throughout Saint Petersburg. Also in 1714, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond, likely chosen due to his previous collaborations with Versailles landscaper André Le Nôtre, designed the gardens. Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli completed an expansion from 1747 to 1756 for Elizabeth of Russia. The palace-ensemble along with the city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The dominant natural feature of Peterhof is a 16-m-high bluff lying less than 100 m from the shore. The so-called Lower Gardens (Nizhny Sad), at 1.02 km² comprising the better part of Peterhof's land area, are confined between this bluff and the shore, stretching east and west for roughly 200 m. The majority of Peterhof's fountains are contained here, as are several small palaces and outbuildings. East of the Lower Gardens lies the Alexandria Park with 19th-century Gothic Revival structures such as the Kapella. Atop the bluff, near the middle of the Lower Gardens, stands the Grand Palace (Bolshoi Dvorets). Behind (south) of it are the comparatively small Upper Gardens (Verhnyy Sad). Upon the bluff's face below the palace is the Grand Cascade (Bolshoi Kaskad). This and the Grand Palace are the centrepiece of the entire complex. At its foot begins the Sea Channel (Morskoi Kanal), one of the most extensive waterworks of the Baroque period, which bisects the Lower Gardens.