St. Petersburg region: a luxurious heritage of history

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Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Saint Petersburg

  • Federal District: Northwestern

  • Language(s): Russian

  • Population: 1,813,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of St. Petersburg region

Travel around St. Petersburg region

The Leningrad region (or Saint Petersburg region) was historically inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes who owned the territories of neighboring Finland and Estonia. In the 8th century AD, the settlement of Ladoga (now Staraya Ladoga) was founded - the first settlement of Russians in these lands, which was an important stronghold. In the 10th century, the city of Novgorod, which begins to recapture local lands from the Finno-Ugric peoples, becomes more important. By the 12th century, Veliky Novgorod became the center of a strong Novgorod principality, which owned vast spaces along the shores of the Baltic Sea and Lake Ladoga. However, with the invasion of the Knights of the Livonian Order, the Novgorod and neighboring Pskov principality began military operations against the Livonians and the Swedes; the result was the famous Battle of the Neva on Lake Ladoga, in which Prince Alexander Nevsky smashes the Swedish and Livonian squads and protects the lands of the Russian princes. After the outbreak of hostilities with the Livonians and the Swedes, several military fortresses were founded to protect the lands, among which Oreshek (Shlisselburg), Korela, and Ivangorod, still preserved to this day. The first one, located on an island in Lake Ladoga, is definitely worth seeing with your own eyes - this is a complete story in every stone. And the last one till this day “guards” the borders of Russia with Estonia.

At the end of the 15th century, the lands of the Novgorod principality were seized by Ivan III, the head of the Moscow principality. So began the history of these lands under the control of Moscow, however, short. At the end of the 16th century, Swedish troops invaded here, with whom the Moscow principality led several long-lasting wars and battles. In the middle of the 17th century, this territory finally fell to the Swedish kings, and for the next half century became the domain of the Swedish governors. But at the beginning of the 18th century, the Great Northern War with the Swedes declared by Peter the Great was succesful, and the territory returned to the Russian Empire. New territories of Vyborg district were also added and became the country's border in the north. The Castle of Vyborg, rebuilt during the time of the Swedish governorship, still rises above the city. A little further south, at the confluence of the Neva River into the Baltic Sea, the city of St. Petersburg was founded - the new capital of the empire.

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Since the transfer of the capital to St. Petersburg in the local lands came the heyday. Since the entire princely couple and its retinue moved here, luxurious palaces and estates began to built in the surrounding lands, the similar of which cannot be found anyware else in Russia. Peterhof Palace was built with its famous park and fountain ensembles - at that time the largest building of this type in the world. Peter the Great wanted to make an impression on the Western rulers, actively inviting them to visit his "country residence". In many ways, Peterhof laid the foundations for close cooperation between Russia and the Western monarchies, especially with the Austrian.

Further, each Russian monarch took into the tradition of building his own palace for himself, and the richer the ruler was, the more luxurious his residence was to rebuild himself. No wonder that all was eclipsed by Empress Catherine II, whose famous palace in Tsarskoye Selo is a world-class example of architecture. In the neighborhood, the palaces of other relatives of the royal family were rebuilt: the Alexander Palace in Pushkin, the Pavlovsk Palace, the Gatchina Palace, the Oranienbaum Palace... The Leningrad region was literally flourished.

And then the Russian Empire fell apart. During the October Revolution in the city of St. Petersburg, the Bolsheviks seized power, the remnants of the White Army were defeated or repressed. One of the most severe punishments was imprisonment in the fortress Oreshek, where to this day the skeletons of ancient prisons is presented. St. Petersburg was renamed to Petrograd, and many palace complexes were closed or reequipped for public use. In 1924, the city of Petrograd was renamed to Leningrad, and the region into the Leningrad region, which saves the name since that time.

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During the Russian Great Patriotic War in the Leningrad region were one of the most difficult military campaigns. The besieged Leningrad endured a perennial Nazis siege, but did not surrender to the enemy, and the difficulties and trials of local residents entered into biographical works and heroic novels of those years. The history has made the trial of this place, however, most of the monuments of architecture and the heritage of art were saved thanks to the evacuation to the Urals and to Siberia. Some of them were lost, and some of the palaces and castles were destroyed, but the latter were restored in the course of a couple of decades after the war. When I visited Pavlovsk Palace in Pavlovsk, on the second floor there was an armory gallery, where broken walls and the lack of plaster also testified to gun salvoes and bullet holes left during the war. Nevertheless, difficult times were left behind, and today the Leningrad region is gradually recovering its great wealth.