The Pyramid Fountain
The Pyramid Fountain is one of the most remarkable and best-known of the Peterhof fountains.
Its design accentuates the regular geometrical pattern formed by the jets. 505 of them, rising above each other in seven tiers, make up a four-sided watery pyramid, which looks as though it had been moulded by the skilful hands of an artist. The pyramid is raised on a square, three-stepped base of marble, which stands in the middle of a square granite-lined pool with sides eleven metres long. Around the perimeter of the pool runs a marble balustrade adorned with vases and urns. Opposite each face of the pyramid there is an opening in the balustrade for a three-stepped cascade flanked by two tiny bridges spanning the perimetric channel.
The first reference to a water pyramid with small cascades is found in documents relating to 1721. Michetti proposed for it a design which copied the three-sided water obelisk in Versailles; but Peter the Great changed the form to that of a pyramid, thus suggesting a different artistic solution. The construction of the fountain was directed by Michetti, Braunstein, and Zemtsov; the fountain-builder Sualem created the hydrotechnical mechanism, based on a principle which has remained unaltered up to the present day. A special conduit feeds the seven pipes inside the base of the fountain with water; from each of them, water runs into one of the seven perimetric channels in a square chamber of cast iron which lies on the base and has a bronze slab for a lid. In the slab there are 505 holes, and in each of them is a nozzle. A proportional decrease in the size of the channels, and the taps with which each of the seven water-pipes is provided, make it possible to regulate the flow of water from the fountain's jets. Sualem laid a pipe from the Pyramid Pool, dug farther up the natural slope. In the autumn of 1724, after the fountain had been tested for the first time, Zemtsov, at Peter's suggestion, made some changes in its appearance. Further decorative work on the Pyramid was carried out by the talented architect Davydov. It was from his design that the pool was embellished in 1739 with miniature bridges, a wooden balustrade with vases, and four pyramids topped by golden stars. Later, in 1768, when the wooden parts of old Petrine structures were being replaced by granite and marble ones, the architect Yakov Alexeyev drew up a plan to face the entire fountain with granite, but this was only partially fulfilled.
Between 1771 and 1774 a project by Yakovlev, which proposed marble ornamentation for the fountain, was approved. Almost thirty years later, in 1799 and 1800, the project was realized by Brouer. All the parts of the basin, the pedestal, the cascades, and the balustrade were made in granite or in Tivdia, Ruskeala, or Jyvan marble, partly by Grigory Kopylov's team of stone-carvers, and partly at the Peterhof Stone Works. At the same time Strelnikov renewed and perfected the hydrotechnical mechanism of the fountain. During the nineteenth century great care was taken to keep the Pyramid in working order. Major restoration work was carried out only in 1928.
During the Nazi occupation of 1941-44, the fountain was severely damaged. The metalworkers Pavel Lavrentyev and his two sons, Vladimir and Pavel, and Alexey Smirnov, the fountain-builder, reproduced the hydrotechnical structure. The Pyramid Fountain began to work again in 1953.
Today the sparkling pyramid rises in the middle of the parterre as it did two hundred years ago; its waters, filling the deep pool, tumble over the white marble steps of the cascades into the canal.
Pyramid Fountain (290 Kb)