The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is the most significant, the most famous and really the biggest of the numerous palaces of Peterhof. It was intended for receptions for high-ranking guests.
The palace is sited on the edge of a natural 16-meter high terrace and its main façade looks onto the Gulf of Finland. It gives additional grandeur to the majestic building.
The site for the construction of the palace was chosen by Peter I, who also drafted the first design for the palace. The original palace was much smaller because in Peter I’s time all palaces were smaller in size, which fully matched the great Emperor’s tastes. The palace was built by architects Johann Friedrich Braunstein, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond and Nicola Michetti.
Later the palace was rebuilt for Empress Elizabeth, Peter I’s daughter, who didn’t know how to live in such a “small” palace which badly lacked space for balls. Empress Elizabeth’s favourite architect Rastrelli enlarged the palace in size. He preserved the central part but added one storey, two wings, the Palace Church and Pavilion under Coat-of-Arms. At the same time many interiors were re-done in the Baroque style.
Shortly after the death of Empress Elizabeth, Catherine II came to power who commissioned her architect Yuri Felten to re-design several rooms in neoclassical style.
Of those rooms which you can see in the palace today of special interest are the Oak Study of Peter I, which still has some pieces of original decoration, the famous Dancing Hall (or Merchants’ Hall) with an endless number of windows and mirrors, the Picture Hall with walls lined with paintings in a tapestry-like way, and the Chinese tudy.
Yet, the main decoration of the Grand Palace which gives it incomparable charm is the view through open windows on the fountains of Grand Cascade, the 20-meter high jet of water from the Samson fountain, the Marine Canal and the Gulf of Finland far ahead.
Sadly, the palace suffered heavy destruction in WWII. Nothing more than burnt-down frame remained of the building in 1944. The first verdict of the government was that the place is a totall loss and beyond repair. It was only three years after the war was over in 1948 that the decision on reconstruction was made. Almost anything you can see in the palace today is a result of long and meticulous work of our talented restorers.