Due to storm warning parks of Peterhof & the Grand Menshikov Palace are closed today, September 18th.

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From the first days of Peterhof's construction, Peter I devoted a lot of attention to the adornment of the Sea Canal, that connected the central palace ensemble with the sea, and instantly became a grand entrance to the residence territory. Guests arrived to Peterhof by ships, and later transferred to smaller boats and lighter vessels, that were passing inside the canal into the special scoop, that served as a harbor. There was no "Samson" fountain in Peter I's time. The level of water in the scoop of the Grand Cascade, was higher than in the Gulf of Finland, therefore, the court hydraulic engineer Vasily Tuvolkov, constructed the canal lock.

The original decor of the grand entrance included 22 fountains. They were located in the niches of the trellis fences, on the alleys' sides along the canal, and thus were named as "Niche fountains". The emperor was planning to adorn these fountains with the sculptural compositions from the themes of the Aesop's fables, so they would bear educational character, and were interpreted as moral edifications and satire about Russian enemies. This plan has not been realized, and only the fountain "Favorite" serves as a reminder of it.

In 1735, the "Niche fountains" were moved next to the border of the canal, having made special bowls with water for them, that would flow through the gilded masks out. In the middle of the XIX century, the masters of the Peterhof lapidary factory, replaced the Pudost limestone in the bowls with marble, in accordance with the blueprints of A.I. Stackenschneider. The vertical jets of the 22 water canons, resembling thin trunks of some fairy glass trees, formed a magnificent aquatic colonnade, leading from the sea to the Grand Palace. This is the "Fountain Alley". Together with the Sea canal, it is one of the main sights of Peterhof, emphasizing its seaside character. According to Alexander Benois, the Peterhof fountains are "a cloud of sprays of the sea, splashing by its banks".