Peter Alexeyevich – better known as Peter the Great – was Tsar of All Russia from 1682 until 1721 when he founded the Russian Empire. He was Russia’s first emperor until he died in 1725. In 1705, Peter I commissioned J. F. Braunstein and later Jean-Baptiste Le Blond – then the Architect to the Crown – to design Peterhof (Peter’s Court) on the Gulf of Finland near Saint Petersburg. He wanted his summer palace to resemble Versailles in France. Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great and Nicholas I all expanded the opulent estate and grounds called Peterhof Palace. Today, this historic complex contains an incredible array of palaces, gardens and fountains on 9,721 acres. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in the municipal town of Petergof, about a 45 minute drive from Saint Petersburg.