Museum of the fountain craft in Peterhof
In the eastern wing of the Grand Palace in Peterhof there is an exhibition explaining how the fountain system of Peterhof works. During European journeys Peter the Great had seen all the most famous fountain gardens and he believed that such a beauty can be created in Russia. There are more than ten surviving drawings by Peter’s own hands, depicting fountains in Peterhof.
Features and description of the museum
Aquiferous system in Peterhof is the unique early 18th century construction. The fountains are operating without any pumps, only due to the natural water pressure, provided with elevation difference. In November 1720 Peter the great ordered the construction of canals and ponds going from the Ropsha hills all the way towards Peterhof. The chief hydraulic engineer responsible for this construction was Vasily Tuvolkov. The works were implemented with the amazing speed and in summer 1721 Peter was already testing the playing fountains in the garden. Elevation of Ropsha hills is about 330 feet above sea level, Peterhof shore natural cliff is 50 feet above sea level. This landscape feature and great abundance of Ropsha subsoil waters make the fountain system of Peterhof work successfully for 300 years. The length of the system of canals and ponds is about 25 miles. Fountain system uses up to 1 cubic feet per minute.
Museum exhibition presents the particles of wooden and iron pipes dating back to the 18th century, fountain nozzles, fountain masters tools. There are several multimedia screens showing how the water runs towards Peterhof, how the fountains are being repaired and serviced and how they were put back in shape after the devastation during the Second World War.
Another section is devoted to the work of people behind this intricate hydraulic technology. There is the team of fountain masters in Peterhof, responsible for the fountains operation and repairs. Fountain master is the unique profession which, as they say, can be taught only here in Peterhof. Nowadays there are about 40 people in that team. The first fountain masters in Russia were from France and Italy, invited by Peter the Great. They have taught their craft the local youths: this was one of the main terms of their contracts here. Peter wanted this unique knowledge to be passed on and wanted to have his own fountain team.
There is also section explaining how landscape design in Peterhof depended on all the ponds, flood-gates and canals feeding the fountains with water. There is a stand describing the world-famous Peterhof festivals. Definitely, the fountains play the key role in each celebration arranged in Peterhof, ever since the days of Peter the Great. Every September there is “Festival of Fountains” in Peterhof – the show combining water play, fireworks and salutation. The origins of this popular festivity are dating back to Peter the Great.