Often referred to as Russia’s Versailles, the Peterhof Palace gardens (Петерго́ф) offered us a picturesque — albeit congested and hectic — spot to stroll during a visit to St. Petersburg earlier this month. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Peterhof was commissioned by Peter the Great in the 18th century.
Under shadows cast by heavily-gilded cupolas, palace caretakers brusquely ushered us through this grandiose palace complex. When we encountered artists dressed in Baroque garb, we tried to imagine Peterhof in its heyday. Then, we tried to visualize the destruction its Nazi occupiers inflicted between 1941-1944.
Aside from the elegant gardens, we simply enjoyed people-watching. Visitors young and old brought life to the formal palace. There were Russian school-children visiting this UNESCO-World Heritage Site on a field trip. Some of them seemed more interested in games of hide-and-seek.
There was even a bride that resembled a delicately painted matryoshka doll.
Elsewhere, aggressive salesmen peddling matryoshka dolls, miniature wooden buildings with colorful spires, and Siberian cashmere shawls. Some of their expressions evoked Cold War intrigue.
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Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.