St. Petersburg: the cultural capital of Russia


Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Saint Petersburg

  • Federal District: Northwestern

  • Language(s): Russian

  • Population: 5,351,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of St. Petersburg

Travel around St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is a city with a great history and rich cultural heritage. In Russia, it is the center of art and a special "St. Petersburg romance" that cannot be found in any other place in the country. This city amazes with its huge palaces and tall buildings, endless avenues and cozy embankments of canals. Since the city was actually erected in the swampy lowland, most of the water was removed to underground utilities, and the rest was organized in the form of canals, for which the city is sometimes called the "North Venice". Of course, there can be no complete similarity with the famous city on the water, but St. Petersburg has much in common with it.

Thus, almost the entire center of St. Petersburg is a World Cultural Heritage Site and a historical monument - so many architectural masterpieces and objects of art are concentrated here. St. Petersburg is filled with a huge number of beautiful museums: here everyone can find art for soul. From the luxurious Hermitage Palace, art collections of the Russian Museum and the unique craftsmanship of Carl Faberge - to the apartments of the great Russian writers and poets, the famous "St. Petersburg well-yards" and the Museum of Sigmund Freud's Dreams. In this city, the unique atmosphere of creativity and inspiration, so comparable to Venice. However, unlike the latter, in St. Petersburg there is often changeable, cold and windy weather, due to which a lot of humorous sayings have appeared among the people. But if you are lucky and during the visit the sun will look out for a day (or better for a week), then you will see the most beautiful city in the country!

At the end of the Great Northern War with Sweden in 1703, on the banks of the Neva near the Gulf of Finland, Peter the Great ordered to build a new city, the future capital of the Russian Empire. Thus arose St. Petersburg. It began with the construction of the Peter-Pavel's Fortress, now towering in the city center on the same-name island. It was built partly to protect the city, partly - to accommodate all government departments and ministries. A little later the city of Kronstadt was founded, which became a real defensive fortress on the sea borders of St. Petersburg. The era of large-scale construction and redevelopment began in a perfectly protected city.


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Two years after the foundation of St. Petersburg, architectural complexes were built on the left bank of the Neva - the Summer and Winter (now the Hermitage) palaces of Peter the Great, the Admiralty and the summer garden. From 1712, the city became the capital of the Russian Empire, and all the nobility, rich merchants, merchants and artisans, mostly from Moscow and the surrounding lands, reached here. The more people arrived, the more ambitious plans were set by Peter the Great. In the following years, active development of Vasilyevsky Island, the left and right banks of the Neva near the Peter-Pavel's Fortress began to be built, and also the county-style royal palaces in the region - Peterhof, Oranienbaum, Catherine's. As a new capital, St. Petersburg acquired a new Mint (in the Peter-Pavel's Fortress), built up a huge number of military and technological plants (ship, foundry, cannon yards, etc.). The first scientific academy in Russia was founded here, many institutes and universities were opened: the Smolny Institute, the Academy of Arts, the Mining School, etc. By 1780, the new city overtook the population of Moscow in its numbers and became the full-fledged capital of a great empire.