Peter the Great (like every other eighteenth-century monarch with delusions of grandeur) visited Versailles and wanted his own. And in typical Peter the Great fashion, his version was bigger and better. The statues were not gold-leafed during his time, but it is an improvement I can definitely get behind. SPARKLE, STATUES, SPARKLE.
He designed Peterhof to be approached from the sea. This sea channel below leads straight from the gulf to the Grand Palace. They often held boat parades in the sea (Peter's navy was stationed at an island within sight) that ended with boats floating up the sea channel.
This sculpture above of Samson conquering a lion in hand-to-hand combat wasn't added until shortly after Peter's death, but it represents Russia (Samson) conquering Sweden (lion on the Swedish coat of arms) in the Great Northern War (which they won on St. Samson's Day).
I really love the checkerboard floors all over Peterhof.
And the grounds. Can you believe how GREEN they are? Lush, rich, manicured mazes, wild forests, paths wide enough for carriages to hurtle down . . .
Even the fountains that weren't gilded enchant me. This one is called the Chessboard Fountain, and it's guarded by dragons: