Saint Petersburg

This city is called Northern Palmyra, Northern Venice, Northern Aurora... But none of these names can reflect magnificent charm, incomparable elegance and splendid originality of Saint Petersburg. While the biggest capitals of the world such as Rome, London, Paris have been built during centuries, it took only ten years at the beginning of the 18th century to build new capital of Russia at the marsh-ridden banks of Neva. At that particular place which had a beneficial geographic location Peter the First, Russian Tsar, ordered to build a fortress, which was named after Saint apostles Peter and Paul.

From the little island where the bastions of the Peter and Paul fortress were located the city made a step to the left and right banks of the Neva, began to grow, slowly becoming a real capital, which by the end of the 18th century rightfully received the name Northern Palmyra.

The city covers an area of 600 sq km and extends over 42 islands. These are surrounded by numerous arms and canals of the Neva and are connected by about 300 bridges.

Characteristic feature of the city is that St. Petersburg differs from all other Russian cities and does not have analogues in Europe. It is not mere chance, because together with Russian architects the best masters from Europe participated in the construction of Russian capital. All architectural styles existing at that time are reflected in buildings of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is not only the most European city of Russia, but it is the most cosmopolitan. To be sure of that fact it is enough to have a walk along the main artery of the city – Nevsky prospect, where cathedrals and churches of all world religions are located.

Less than in 100 years Petersburg lined up with the biggest capitals of the world in the sphere of city-building, culture, science, art and education. All those reforms may be compared only with Renaissance epoch, with the difference that it took shorter time. Uniqueness of St. Petersburg is also in the fact that not only the city was constructed in harmonious and elegant form according to a single plan, but it constitutes a unified ensemble with the surrounding palaces, suburban residential areas, picturesque parks. Petergoph of Peter the First, Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) of Catherine the Second, Pavlovsk of Paul the First, Oranienbaugm of Peter the Third and other suburban residences of the tsars, great princes and famous statesmen still delight visitors with their architecture of rare beauty, special atmosphere of their parks.

The name of the city was changed several times. In 1914 the city was named Petrograd. In 1924 after death of V. I. Lenin it was renamed into Leningrad and only in 1991 the city returned its original name Saint Petersburg. The rivalry between Moscow and St. Petersburg started long time ago. The inhabitants of Moscow think that the citizens of St. Petersburg are snobs because the latter barely condescended to acknowledge the existence of the former. Tsar Nicolas I once said “St. Petersburg belongs to Russia but it isn’t Russian”.

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