This past summer I studied abroad at Herzen State University in St. Petersburg with William and Mary. Our group studied in St. Petersburg for five weeks and traveled to Moscow for a week. At Herzen State we studied Russian language and history. Our history class, taught by Prof. Frederick Corney, focused on historical sites of memory from the Soviet Union. We had many interesting excursions around the city exploring the theme of historical memory in Russia.
My favorite excursion was the visit to Peterhof Palace. Peterhof was built by Peter the Great in the early 18th century. The palace was almost completely destroyed during World War II but has since been reconstructed to its former glory.
When we first arrived at Peterhof we took a tour of the palace which featured gilded ball rooms and bedrooms. Although, it is a beautiful palace it is hard to imagine real people living there. The interior of Peterhof is impressive but the real showstopper of the palace is its fountains. All of the fountains work by gravity and the gardens feature a plethora of beautiful decorative and trick fountains.
After we walked through the gardens and saw the fountains, we saw the palace Peter the Great originally built at this location. This palace is known as Monplaisir palace and is much smaller and right on the banks of the Gulf of Finland. Monplaisir was my favorite palace we visited in Russia because it felt more like a real home than the other places we saw. If I were a Czar, I would live in Monplaisir. When it was time to leave Peterhof, we didn’t take the bus back but instead rode a hydrofoil on the Gulf of Finland. It was a really amazing chance to see Peterhof from the water. My day at Peterhof, like my time in Russia, was truly unforgettable!