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Peter the Great, whose real name was Emperor Peter Alexeyevich Romanov, was a powerful and often tyrannical leader of Russia. He commissioned the building of Saint Petersburg, which would be his capitol, as well as Peterhof, which would be his summer residence. Peter had a love of the sea and naval power, so it was no surprise the location as close to the sea. This love of naval power was fostered by Peter the Great, who created the Russian Navy two years after he came into power. Russia would regain the Baltic and Black Seas under his reign. He would also create naval bases, like Kronshtadt, the base that determined the site for St. Petersburg and Peterhof. 

Peter came to reign in 1682 at the age of ten. He would not actually become ruler, though, until 1696. During that time, his brother, Ivan V was co-Tsar along with Peter’s half sister and Regent Sophia. During this time, Peter enjoyed building mock ships and creating sea battles, then actually learning in court. So at 24 years, Peter became official Tsar, and made it his goal to reform Russia as he sought fit, namely, westernizing it, as well as expansion. Part of his plan was to overthrow the Ottoman Empire, and do to this he spent months with the East India Company, learning all about ship and lock building, before he created the Russian Navy. 

Peterhof was chosen for the love of the Sea that Peter had, the water symbolized fountains. The gardens and wall water features were a great joy to Peter, a place where he would spend a lot of time. The choice for Peterhof was also in close vicinity to Kronshtadt, where he could oversee the naval activities. Most of the famous wall fountains were constructed during his reign, but have certainly been embellished over time, as well as adding fountains to the site as well. St. Petersburg was also the capitol of the Russian Empire by his death in 1725, which left his wife, Catherine I to become ruler since there was no legitimate male heir.