Peterhof is rightly considered to be the star sight of the St. Petersburg Greater Area.
In early 18th century Peter the Great decided to build his residence on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. He wanted to rival the best European suburban palaces, and especially the Versailles near Paris. A wooden palace was soon built atop a hill and Peterhof soon became the official summer residence of the Tsar. After Peter's death his daughter Elizabeth commissioned the Italian architect Rastrelli to enlarge the palace. He successfully fulfilled this task by adding two wings to its central part and connecting them with the main building by two galleries.
Following the Revolution of 1917, Peterhof was converted into a museum. It was completely razed to the ground by the Nazis in the World War II who burnt and booby-trapped the palace, and looted its many treasures. The Palace and the grounds that you see today is a faithful reconstruction that stands as a symbol of the nation's postwar recovery.
The Grand Cascade is the most spectacular part of the Peterhof complex. The core of the Cascade is the Large Grotto flanked by waterfall stairways with fancifully shaped marble steps. Gold-leafed statues and fountains decorate the entire area of the Grand Cascade. The most prominent is the statue to Samson Slaying the Lion, a symbol of Russia's victory over Sweden during the 30-year long Northern War.
Other places of interest include the Monplaisir Palace, the Marly Palace, the Bath House of Catherine the Great, and Catherine's Quarters from where Catherine the Great started a coupe that would dethrone her husband Peter III and make young Catherine the sole ruler of Russia.