While walking around the enormous gardens behind the Peterhof Palace, I was cold, hungry, probably dehydrated, and damp from the slight rain that had begun to fall in the early afternoon. It had been a long day, and my legs were becoming sore from walking. And yet, the beauty of the gardens at Peterhof made all of those inconveniences disappear. Immediately behind the palace is the most extravagant series of fountains, including two sets inlaid into a hill, and a large pool with an impressive golden figure of Triton in the center.
Straight down the path from this main set of fountains, the Gulf of Finland and a small harbor peek through the trees. Our tour guide told us that this palace was especially important to Catherine I because the Gulf of Finland was her escape route in case anyone tried to overthrow her, despite her preference for her palace in Pushkin.
The garden itself is also filled with many “tricks.” There was a smattering of stepping stones clustered together in one spot, perhaps covering the size of a small car, with small water fountains interspersed. A group of children took turns running across it, trying not to get wet as the water shot up when their feet hit the rocks. At first I figured that it must somehow be a weight sensor of some sort, but found out that there was a worker hidden away with the controls, who simply watched for when the children would venture across. It was very amusing to watch the children squeal in excitement when one of their friends got splashed or made it across safely.
Although we didn’t go into the palace itself, the beauty and fun of the fountains themselves made me like Peterhof more than Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin. I also loved its proximity to the ocean, and how it, like Petersburg was meant to be, really did seem like a window to the West.