The Peterhof Palace – Samson Fountain and Grand Cascade

Some refer to Peterhof Palace (Peter’s Court) as the “Russian Versailles”. It is located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland and hosts a number of palaces, gardens and stunning fountains. Peter the Great was the one that commissioned this great palace to be built.

One of the most famous aspects of Peterhof Palace is the Samson Fountain and the Grand Cascade. Each is a magnificent display of the power and beauty of water. The Grand Cascade is a series of two sets of white platforms made of stone and gold engravings that descend. To the right and left of these platforms are exquisite golden statues of Gods. Small fountains that shoot water upward into the air are also present between each platform. In the middle these two sets of platforms is a man made grotto that is two stories high. This grotto is made of hewn brown stone and houses a little museum of the fountains history. One of the intriguing things in this museum is a replica of a table built during Peter’s time. This table carries a small bowl of artificial fruit and one reaches for it they are sprayed with water.

The Samson fountain is located at the bottom of the Grand Cascade. The Samson fountain consists of a large semicircular pool that holds a golden statue of Samson. Samson is portrayed there prying open the jaws of a lion, which is said to be a representation of Russia’s victory over Sweden during the Great Northern War of 1700-1721. The lion is a replica of the lion that appears on the Swedish coat of arms and Samson is used to represent Russia because the victory over Sweden was won on St. Samson’s Day. The lion’s mouth shoots a vertical jet of water and it is the fountain that shoots water the highest through out the place grounds. One interesting thing about the Samson fountain as well as others through out the gardens of Peterhof is that none of them are powered through the use of pumps. The water is supplied by a natural spring and it collects reservoirs in the Upper Gardens of the grounds. What causes the pressure is the high elevation difference.

There is one thing about the Samson water fountain that is a tragedy though. The fountain that you view today is not the one that was installed during Peters reign. The reason for this is because during the Second World War the Germans captured Peterhof 1941. The people of Peterhof tried to burry the golden water fountains in order to prevent the Germans from taking them away but they failed to save them all. About three-quarters of the fountains including the Samson fountain were destroyed. After the Germans left in 1944 the restoration process of the palace began and in 1947 a replica of the Samson fountain was put in place.

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